Every now and again I do online surveys for money (quite extensive surveys, I might add). I try to actually make it worth the survey’s while in that my opinions are rather precise: I’m not just clicking the first thing I see.
Yesterday, however, the survey I was taking dealt mostly with advertising. Had I seen such and such an advert? How about this one? Or that one?
I was mildly surprised; I hadn’t seen most of the adverts they set in front of my eyes, at least the recent ones. Then it struck me. I don’t see much advertising at all any more. With Adblock Plus installed on Firefox, I don’t see many internet ads, except Google’s, which are generally easy to ignore. What little television I watch is ad-free (and on a tangential note, it a pleasure to watch and not have narrative interruptions every ten minutes) thanks to the magic of various devices designed to do this. When I listen to the radio, I invariably tune in to 99.1 FM, which happens to be CBC Radio 1, and happens to contain no blatant advertising.
If I could figure out a way to block billboards and bus-side adverts and whatever arrives in my tech magazines, I would do that too.
Not that I don’t want creators of works to get paid for what they create. Far from it. Radiohead released In Rainbows for a choose-your-own-price and I paid about $8 for that. I would pay for commercial-free television, if I could receive only the shows I want, in the format I want, to watch when I want, on whatever machine I want. I’d micro-pay to view websites I enjoy (after all, I have about five sites I regularly visit, that’s all) without advertising present.
There’s something magnificently wrong with Total Advertising Awareness. You know, when you can recite off the top of your head ten different company slogans, can sing a bunch of different jingles, and talk to your friends about such and such a funny/insightful/pretty commercial advertisement. Ever wonder what that does to you? I do. I wonder if, now that I don’t see as many advertisements, I’ll watch my desire to constantly buy things go down. And I wonder if I’ll be able to opt out of other things as well, like Halloween and the rabid consumer frenzy that Christmas has become.
You could experiment on yourself, too. You don’t have to. But you could. You could try ridding your mind-space of as much advertising as possible, and then try to read the results. At the very least you’ll have more room in your head.