As you can guess, I am a believer in free will, and as you can also guess, my belief in free will and choice often runs into conflict with the idea espoused by others that we are brainwashed by subliminal messages, or other forces beyond our control, and that no choice or action is our own. I, however, have a different solution.
You know that ads and other media often carry subliminal messages. However, these messages are merely inspirations that steer or affect your desires, choices, and later actions, which are still your own. Therefore, even though there are influences, you are still responsible for all your actions, thoughts, desires, and choices. That’s why I believe that just because we have subliminal messages doesn’t mean there is no social free will.
For instances, the image for this post (screenshot of the PSP game Dead or Alive: Paradise) is an example of the classic “sex sells” tactic. You all know how this goes. Put in a sexually attractive figure and use it sell your product. A nice sexy woman for the young men, and a physically well-toned man for the women. Now, this does send messages inspiring you to buy the product, due to the association of the product with the sexually attractive figure. But it is your choice, that you are responsible for, just that the message affects said choice. Sex isn’t the only thing that sells. For men, power, boldness and strength are quite appealing as well. Meanwhile, in women, sensitivity and affection seems to be a recurring source of appeal. And of course, beauty has great appeal to all, in different ways. This could just be a generalization on my part, coming from opinion.
It helps, though, to be aware of the messages, that things do influence and inspire you in some way, but at the same time, do not deny your accountability to your own actions.