Monday, October 24, 2005

Another Senseless Act of Blogging.

Let's look at that word senseless. That means that I haven’t used any of the five senses in writing this. I also must not have used the sixth sense, otherwise known as common sense.

Enough of this gay banter. Let's talk about advertising. In this city, every possible square inch is covered with advertising. The bottom of my apartment door is regularly assaulted with circulars, fliers, and menus. The MTA long ago made sure that every available surface of my commute is covered with ads. Kids pay money to proudly advertise for companies with their clothes (Nike, Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger...) Hawkers on street corners & subway stations regularly thrust free newspapers (AM & Metro) in my face, shouting, "free paper!" One of these actually shouted at me once for ignoring him. "Don’t walk away, muthafucka- this is my JOB!"

So what, right? You can’t fight Madison Avenue. THE POINT IS THAT WE'RE ALL IGNORING THE ADVERTISING. The louder and shriller it is, the more we ignore it. I estimate that between the commercials, banner ads, pop up ads, billboards, fliers, previews, posters, designer logos and idiots on the corner shouting at me to take their "free" product, I'm ignoring about 35% of the world I live in (I'd guess 15% for those who live in the suburbs.) Now, what does it mean to ignore something? Normally, that means that our conscious minds are not paying attention to stimulus registered by the sub-conscious. We all do this every second of our lives- one of the symptoms of schizophrenia is the inability of the conscious to filter out unimportant stimuli- say, the taste of the saliva in your mouth at any given second. But what I’m talking about here is consciously registering that something is advertising and choosing to ignore it. That takes effort and energy. The brighter the flashing neon sign, the more annoying the announcer, the more energy it takes to ignore it.

Advertisers know this as well- that’s why they keep pushing the envelope. Ten years ago, were there ten minutes commercials in movie theaters, or silent commercials in the corner of the TV screen while a show was playing? Product placement is nothing new (2001, a Space Odyssey was released in 1968, after all) but it's become bolder and bolder over the years. (See I Robot, amongst others.) We ignore this assault, so the assaulters constantly up the ante.

NOW THE PUNCHLINE: Could this unwitting drain of mental energy be a contributing factor in the exponential rise of mental illnesses over the last hundred years? In addition to the ever-rising pressures of society, are our minds also so busy ignoring unwanted but unavoidable stimuli that our brains are starting to crack? Anyone collegially minded out there want to expand on this?

Oh- I just wanted to mention I’m going to take part in's Adsense banner ad program. It's about time I made some money off this thing.



Anonymous said...

I have a wonderful ability to 'switch off' to advertising. Ask anyone who knows me and I have never seen a television commercial. I do however see posters, but from an artistic viewpoint - couldn't tell you what they were advertising. Brochures act as instruments for my book layout creations; could go on. It is too late for you Tony - I have been doing this all my life; but if you put Adsense on your blog, I won't see it - but it will be hurting you and others like you.

Anonymous said...

Just want to add I am collegially minded. Hhahahahahahahaahahahahahah

Anonymous said...

The well-loved and well-watered (among other beverages) man, nay.. god^1.5 (that's a demigod, to you and me) John Spear himself would raise a glass to you and your perceptive perceptiveness.

- Chris the recent daddy

Tony LaRocca said...

anon- please don't tell me that I have to explain that the "Adsense" line at the end was a joke... please...

Chris- Salute, daddy! Hope to see you this weekend! (What ever happened to Mr. Spears anyway?)

Anonymous said...

Mwhahahaaaaa. Love seeing people beg for free.

french toast girl said...

Makes lots and lots of sense to me.

On a similar note, I recall also hearing on NPR a study that was being done on the different frequencies and pitches different mechanical pieces emitted (computers, your fridge, whatever) - so that at any given moment, your subconscious is being exposed to a bunch of horribly discordant sounds.

Makes me want to go outside and sit on the porch with the cat awhile. Last I checked, no ads there.

love, me

Tony LaRocca said...

Hey Elena- did you read these comments and realize there is now an offspring of Mr. Witlox?

french toast girl said...

Check this out:

Commercial Alert's mission is to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere,
and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy.

love, me

egg head chickens said...

If you invent a new religion, the merchandising and advertising will go with the flow!