Today I saw a commercial on TV. This is unusual, because I have no TV, so I’m therefore hardly exposed to that kind of advertisement. This situation grants me the chance to, when exposed to such messages, view the advertisement from different perspective.
Firstly, I tend to catch myself smiling at the often silly messages, and secondly my smile fades away when it hits me how so many of these commercials and advertisements tells us what we need in order to feel good, content and/or happy. Often making us feel bad and/or not good enough. The solution always being for us to pay for something, invest our time and money in something other than what we already have, in order to truly be happy. But if the ads are an indication of anything, it would be that it doesn’t matter what or how much stuff you buy, there is always more and you need to get that too, before you can settle down in peace.
This is of course not true. It’s not just untrue, it is an absolute lie. I believe that most of what we need, we already have, materialistic and idealistic speaking. But we’re bombarded with commercial messages wherever we turn, and even if we may think they do not affect us, they do. Lifelong commercial messages are being broadcast and received and in time it alters our values in a very subtle way.
Take the commercial which I saw this morning for example. A son visited his elderly mother together with his wife, and they were going through some old pictures when the mother got all misty eyed for reminiscing about their old summer house which they obviously had sold. This was really good acting, I could feel for her. Then her son asked if she’d like to have the summer house back, surprising her with an old key on a piece of string. She got emotional and you could see her happiness.
It all ended with a great party in her small apartment and with a big message across the TV screen: “You have the chance to win xxx milion when you join the lottery of … (whatever)”. I like the gesture the son did for his mother. But the way the whole commercial was made, I felt was such a ugly way of playing with our values and emotions in order to get us to put our time, money and attention into a lottery!
Maybe I’m sensitive, maybe I’m wrong. But I think this proves my point, that being away from this kind of messages gives you a unique perspective when you do receive the message. It gives you awareness.
Want to test my statement for yourself?
Easy. Go without watching TV or listening to radio for two weeks (maybe it would be enough with one week, but now I’d really like to prove a point). Try skipping the commercials as soon as possible on your streaming services and so on, try simply to avoid being overly exposed to advertisement. Writing this, I realise how hard it can be today to avoid advertisement, but all the more reason to do this cleanse!
After the two weeks have passed, allow yourself to watch some commercials, and pay attention to your thoughts and your feelings. What is your experience, do you notice any difference?
I truly believe that we can all use some digital cleansing at times. We need to spend a little less time watching TV, and on digital media, but also reading the news we could do without. We need to better pay attention to what is going on around us, with ourselves, in our family, with friends, at work and in our neighbourhood. Doing so will help us create authentic connections and help us feel part of something meaningful something real.
There may be a time and place for everything. But being online and connected all the time is not the way to experience life to the fullest.