In an earlier post I wrote:
“Turn off the television. Completely. Cook some healthy food and sit down to eat this together, as a family or group of friends. Get a game, and play. Get a ball and play catch.”
But it now occurs to me that even that is a step too far for many people. Too bold, too radical, too difficult.
So, I have thought back to the process we went through, a couple of years back, and I suggest a more moderate first step:
The single biggest thing you can do, to improve your life and help the planet, the single first step that will enable other steps to follow, is …
Mute all adverts on your television. Easy – just use your remote, and stop listening to the adverts. This one act will save you countless messages you do not want or need to hear (almost the definition of advertising – otherwise it would be called public information). The easiest act in the world – just a move of the thumb (for most people). Turn it into a game!
With the sound muted you will initially have fun watching the adverts, and can improvise the dialogue yourselves – be cheeky, rude or creative! You will also discover how the advertisers are combating the muting of adverts (and I guess for those hard of hearing too) with written messages on screen, bright flashing and bold colours to “catch your eye”. Yes, catch your eye – do you want to be caught? Do you want to be manipulated, persuaded, cajoled to buy? Don’t you think you will likely remember to buy the essentials, the toilet paper, the bread, the soap etc? Umm, maybe that is why they need advertising – not for your benefit at all – but for theirs! So, after laughing at a few adds, we found it best to also consciously turn away or flick the channel. Doing this you will possibly be amazed at how long the adverts run for and how frequent they are.
If you do this – well done – you are well on the way to improving your life and saving the planet.
Must dash – I got a football to play with!!
… (10 minutes later, back inside – rain stopped play a while) …
I would just like to point out the really obvious observation – that it is not just the adverts on television that are persuading you to live a certain way – all the programmes are your ‘windows’ onto another world – but it is not reality, as such.
If you cut out the adverts, you start to notice, more often, the falseness of the world portrayed in films, shows and dramas. You notice the perfect skin, the wealthy lifestyles, the lack of ill or overweight people. The lack of old people! This is not what you see when you go out into the real world, is it? In the real world you see real, ordinary people, like you and me. Television may be seen as a window onto the world, because of documentaries, nature programmes and all the wonderful educational programmes – but it more a lens, and one that can be distorted more and more by those who operate it, finance it, control it.
Now you see why Rupert Murdoch hates the BBC so much. However, the BBC is far from imune, its just slower to respond – and thankfully it does not have adverts for stuff you do not need! That is why we pay a tv licence fee – and why it is worth every penny!!!