I realized reading "Dark Ages America" that businesses understood that the best way to make a steady income was to push addictive products. In the past, until the fifties more or less, you would buy an expensive thing (suit, house..) once in a while, or even in a lifetime (such as a bicycle or a gold watch) and that was it. Addictive pleasures (sex, sugar, alcohol, even strong emotions...) were reserved for Saturday night or Sunday (say, a small bottle of Coca-Cola at the drugstore), everybody would smoke ONE cigarette at the end of a work day, would go to the movies once in a while, because it was so expensive, etc. But there is no brand loyalty in all this, and, more importantly, no addiction.
Advertisement and TV encouraged us to become drugged and addicted to quick pleasure inducing hits requiring exponential use : sugar, alcohol, pornography, gambling, tobacco, soap operas 6 hours a day on TV, cars and gasoline, credit to finance all this, and now that some of those pleasures have been found bad for the health (what a surprise), we are switching to mobile phones, pay TV, and internet, which all require subscription plans which end up costing a fortune over years. And we are all addicted to it, instead of critical thinking, reading, self-improvement, and even work and family commitments.
This is especially obvious in third world countries, in Africa for instance, even if our way of life is also spreading there with satellite TV : there, everybody smokes (but not much), but students are actually interested in science, see computers as tools, not toys, work and take care seriously of their friends or families, and pays cash ; actual wealth is created in farms and factories, not in web (N+1).0 startups.