I used to hate adverts. Now they’re not aimed at me they’re even worse.
Last year my PC developed a malware infection that proved remarkably hard to shift. No matter what site I clicked on I was being offered diet pills and underwear that I really didn’t think was gender appropriate. After a few frustrated weeks I installed Adblocker.
Around the same time, for entirely unrelated reasons, I pretty much stopped watching live television. Aside from occasionally catching the news almost everything I watch is online, and even then its usually on Netflix or iPlayer. The upshot is that, aside from when I watch the occasional episode of something on 4OD, I just don’t see TV advertising.
This is why it came as such a culture shock to me when I was forced to sit through twenty minutes of adverts at the cinema the other day. By God, it’s worse than I ever remembered! The feeling I experienced was not irritation, or anger, or even boredom. I can only describe my feelings as profound despair.
What an appalling, witless void of banality! What utter contempt for the audience! So much money, and seemingly quite a bit of talent, wasting on this empty worthless crap! What hope is there for humanity if this is what we’re willing to sit through, let alone if people think that the lifestyles and behaviours, the sheep like conformity and self involved bullshit shown in these adverts are anything that anyone would ever aspire to?
I know, I know, I’ve just described everything that advertising has always been. Still there was a difference here, and it wasn’t simply down to my lack of exposure to advertising over the past year. The adverts have changed because the times have changed, and people aren’t really bothering to advertise to me any more. I’m 30 and I’m single, and because I’m a male people aren’t using that fact to try to sell me ice cream or white wine (I know that sounds sexist, but that’s because I’m describing sexist advertising). I don’t have any kids, I don’t have any plans to buy a house soon and have no particular need for the more advanced financial services. I’m not young enough to be wowed any more by incremental advances in technology – the existence of smartphones at all is still a technological marvel to me. I have higher aspirations than recovering from a hangover by sharing Doritos or Nescafe with pre-added whitener (urgh!) with my smug hipster friends. No-one even wants to sell me cool stuff any more because I’m too old to be a good advert for it, and I’m too young to be sold stuff that isn’t cool, or mid life crisis stuff. I know what I want, I have the means to afford it and the only things I desire are achievements, not possessions.
It’s strange. On one level it’s nice, but on another level I feel kinda disconnected from the world around me. Like I’m wrong. Like I don’t have the right aspirations, and ideals. Like I don’t fit in.
This is the hold marketing has on us. This has shown to me the extent to which our society is defined by this bilge that is shoved down our throats. I am delighted to finally have the opportunity to cut myself off from it to this extent. I urge you to do the same!