Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Today I was discussing with a co-worker my fairly strong opinions on advertising. In a nutshell, I find it generally offensive, and have made various changes to my life to avoid it.

I have not always been so averse to advertising. As a teenager I spent hours in front of the TV watching afternoon shows and got bombarded with ads. A program that was an hour long was actually about 45 minutes, with 15 minutes of ads. At the time, these didn't bother me. Mostly these were between shows, but they kept changing the formula to have blocks of ads increasingly within it. This broke the flow of the program.

Now, I couldn't do it. I would get up and walk away in the first ad block.

There are all sorts of reasons to dislike advertising. For me it is an intrusion into my personal space, trying to tell me about something I don't care about, or worse - trying to get me to buy something I don't want. Ads can be highly inappropriate, such as seeing dog food spooned out in great lumps while you are eating dinner. I see the overt consumption in our society caused, in part, by this never ending stream of coercion and false desires. I value the thoughts in my brain as mine, and resent the capitalistic intrusion. Buddhist believe that suffering is caused by wanting things, and viewed as such, advertising is actually spreading suffering.

So, what I do is avoid advertising actively. Driving to work I listen to CD's, not the radio. I used to listen to a few funny DJ's, but I was grinding my teeth during the traffic and weather - 'brought to you by .... " blah blah blah. Radio advertising is the worst I think, they only have a few seconds and go for high impact. As for TV, we have foxtel and although it has more and more ads, I don't watch anything live. It's all recorded on the IQ and that means 32x skip over. I get a lot of pleasure skipping over ads. Internet can be ad free with various ad blockers, and I would rather spend an hour reading and visiting my favourite web sites than watch an hour of TV these days. This is partly advertising, and partly because I like an active rather than a passive experience.

There are places where you can't avoid some ads. We went to the movies and there were the inevitable trailers. One of the nicer side effects of largely avoiding advertising is that when you do see and ad it's often for the first time. Ads can be funny, can be quite ok to watch even - once. It's the repetition that grinds and grinds your mind into irate little pieces. Another place that I have noticed ads is in the supermarket, in the store music. I think many people don't even hear these, it's practically subliminal, like a subtle suggestion after the main event of the other media formats have forced the thought of consumption of product x deep into your brain with that ever so catchy jingle.

Another way of looking at all this is that your time has value. You get paid for your time at work, for example. When you are not working, your time is yours - so being forced to watch or listen to an ad is effectively stealing your time. If I am to endure advertising, I should be paid to do it, as it doesn't benefit me. If I want something, I can generally find it easily. The random distribution of advertising is something I also find annoying - I don't need to know about pensioners pee pants, yet.

So, you will notice this web site, if I can at all help it, will be ad free. Blogger does allow you to make money with ads. I don't care, I don't want them. If they force them on me, well, I'll probably shut this down and go somewhere else. I also think that the web can be a wonderful place, when the blight of advertising is banished. So enjoy - this ad free part of the world.

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