The commercialization of our lives

There is one area of our lives that seems to affect us more than any other, in my opinion, but I never realized it until recently.  That one thing is Television.  Watching television bombards us with commercials, even when we think we have tuned it out we really haven’t.

I have been without the ability to watch television for nearly two years now, first cutting the satellite feed, then getting rid of the TV all together. I realize now that the television being unplugged was the beginning of my journey to find what was missing in my life and actually finding it.  Without the television in the background I took the time to get rid of everything that no longer meant anything to me.

I am surprised to hear all the ways in which marketing has found to use the TV to reach us.  For example, Wal-mart I  hear now has TVs inside the store to tell you what products you should buy.  Seriously, you are already in the store, they need to find a way to make you buy more and use the TV to do so? Click here to see where else TV maybe sneaking in to your life.

When watching a program I never remembered the commercials, I even had to remind myself to pay attention to them during the Super Bowl (when they are supposed to be great, but aren’t).  At least I didn’t realize at the time that I was absorbing the information.

But I was.  I noticed the newer movies which were advertised, remembering which ones sounded interesting that I would look to rent when available.   I noticed I had heard about a new cleaning product which sounded dumb to me, I heard so much more.

Today, without the TV bombarding me with these advertisements I no longer even browse the red box for new movie rentals as I no longer have that list in my head of things I would like to see, I don’t get cravings for foods that don’t taste as good as they look.

Another surprising development has been that I don’t know most of the entertainment news.  I hadn’t realized this until I was waiting in line at the grocery store to check out.  I was bored and began to browse the covers of the magazines in my view.  Who are these people?  At first it threw me, was I that out of touch with the world?  Then I realized I didn’t care.  Who cares about the latest celebrity divorce or the teenage mother?  Do I care that much about the neighbors?  No!  So why should I care about these people who are, and should be, strangers to me?

How we have let ourselves get caught up in reality television and the lives of the actors, athletes, and others who have no direct bearing on our personal lives is beyond me.

Even worse is how the product commercials are no being advertised right in the programs we watch to get our attention.  Is this why we as a society shop so much?  We see all these things and believe we need them to make our lives easier or happier.

Give it a try.  Avoid television for a few days and see if you too lose the desire to buy the latest product. Check out this story about a man who gave up TV 24 years ago and how it changed his life.  You can also review all the things he missed on the TV and see if they were important to watch in the first place.

Do you still have a television?  Which commercials get your attention?

Laura Ingalls Wilder once said:

The real things haven’t changed; it is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong

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4 thoughts on “The commercialization of our lives

  1. Oh my…I can really relate to this post. I gave up cable TV a few years ago because I realized that the only things I really cared about watching were the news (mostly for the weather reports) and football – all of which were available for free over the air. I got Netflix which is MUCH cheaper and it allows me to watch movies as well as documentaries (which I do sometimes enjoy) without the commercials.

    But recently I decided to set up an old TV in the basement so I could watch it while I work out on my exercise bike & Nordic Trak. I would vastly prefer to ride my real bike outside, but this summer has just been so hot that it really hasn’t been possible. Personally, I find that heat stroke totally ruins the endorphin high. Anyhow, I’m not entirely sure that the television is an improvement over staring at the concrete wall. Seriously, I sorta can’t believe people actually watch this stuff!

    I’m not sure if the commercials have gotten worse recently, or if I’m just more aware of them… plus, I’m much more conscious of the clock when I’m working out than I would be if I was just watching… but I was watching an afternoon “newscast” the other day and literally they’d have 5 minutes of “news” followed but 5 minutes of commercials, and it just went like that for the entire hour! And since Colorado is a “swing state” the barrage of political ads is just beyond the pale!

    At one point I stumbled upon some “Extreme Makeover” weight loss show – and, get this, the thing was sponsored by Lay’s Potato Chips! I really couldn’t believe it. The show is about some morbidly obese person huffing and puffing, dieting and struggling to lose 150 pounds, and then the commercials would come on with this woman making faces like she’s in ecstasy while eating potato chips. The irony was palpable.

    I’m really, REALLY hoping that the weather cools off soon! If not, I may have to go back to listening to my old Fleetwood Mac tapes over, and over, and over while staring at the concrete wall. It’s either that or endless episodes of woodworking and Rick Steve’s Europe on PBS. Maybe I’ll break down and set up some sort of wireless network so I can watch Netflix in the basement – because I’m not sure how much more of this I can take!

    Sorry to blather on forever and ever… guess you struck a nerve, again! 🙂

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    1. How funny. I’ve seen the Extreme Weight Loss show but on Hulu so I didn’t see the commercial. That’s just wrong. I checked the show out on Hulu, like everything else and had Geico commercials through the episode, much better than potato chips to go with the content.

      I’m like you, in the winter I used to check the weather forecast, but I can do that on the radio as well. Although I use Hulu to keep my attention when I’m working out on my bike to make the time go faster if I’m not in the mood for music, which I listen to frequently without the TV. I had Netflix at one time, but found I really don’t watch enough to pay for it, Hulu is free, so Hulu it is. Another plus is that even though I still get commercials they are much shorter. I noticed before I cut the cable that the commercial breaks were getting extremely long too. Don’t people already buy enough stuff? Seriously, it’s gotten ridiculous.

      Reminding me of the political commercials is an even better reason not to have TV now. I live in Pennsylvania which is considered a swing state, so we are bombarded with the ads as well. It’s been so nice not to hear all those negative ads this year.

      We finally got a break in our heat, I hope you get one soon. The high today was 70! Although this is day three of rain with two more supposedly to go before it’s done.

      Hey don’t apologize for “blathering on” I so enjoy your posts and comments, they make me smile or laugh every time I read one.

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  2. We still have our TV, plus cable service. I’ve never paid much attention to regular commercials, but I’m a sucker for infomercials! I liked infomercials when I was a kid, and I still do.

    I’ve never bought anything from one… but I sure am tempted 🙂

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    1. That’s funny because there was a time period when infomercials were my deep dark secret. I have ordered from a couple, but was disappointed both times finally learned my lesson after the second purchase and avoided even looking at them after that.

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