TV commercials teach unhealthy habits, sell unnecessary products and mislead us about false needs, influencing us through peer pressure.Find Bill Allin at http://billallin.com
TV Commercials Can Ruin Your Life and Health
The question for me was, could TV actually teach? I knew it could, because I knew 3-year-olds who sang beer commercials!
- Joan Ganz Cooney, American television producer, one of the founders of Sesame Workshop, home of Sesame Street (b. 1929)
[DISCLOSURE: The purpose for this article is to make readers aware of the effects of following life and health advice offered by TV commercials. These are science based facts, not opinions. The science part is left out to make it easier to read.]
Children, adolescents, even adults learn about life and life skills by watching television. As odd as that may sound, they have few other convenient sources for information they need. Today's parents literally know almost nothing about parenting and the needs of children other than food, clothing and shelter.
For most of human history children learned about life from their parents and neighbours as they worked and played alongside their parents in fields and workshops. Today children are separated from their parents for almost all of their waking day, leaving surrogates to do the job of teaching them about life.
TV fills that role magnificently as it seeks to mold the minds of children to become devoted consumers of particular products as they get old enough to spend money. The prime objective of programming is to entertain people long enough that they will stay around for the next set of commercials.
But what are television commercials teaching? Is it worthwhile life advice? No. Do parents realize that they have turned the job of teaching almost everything their children learn over to pathological commercial interests who want people to follow what they teach with the same devotion as people give to their religions or their preferred political party? Again, no.
First, I want you to think about all the TV programs you know. Which among them has role models you believe children should follow? Of course we need buffoons to laugh at and actors to play conflicted characters for drama. Would you change lives with any of them?
As you think about the TV programs you know, one that would interest kids, adolescents or poorly educated adults, can you think of any you would like to represent life in your home or workplace? Even one? I can't.
TV news is filled with violence and perversion. Shows that emphasize personalities tend to have them conflicting among themselves. Comedies show people with personality problems, social problems, even mental illnesses (never identified as such). Dramas (mostly soaps) show people with lives that no one would want to emulate.
Commercials are where real life teaching takes place. Commercials pay the freight for programming. And they are often better produced. Their messages are meant to be taken literally, also to create a long term following. That's why you see the same commercials repeated over and over. And over. And over. As a hypnotist would do when putting a volunteer into a trance. The rule of thumb in TV advertising is feed the same message to people ten times or more and they will believe it. Anything.
Let's set aside anything to do with political or religious advertising as it is filled with so much brain twisting propaganda and distortions of truth that networks and stations should be required to flash warning signs before and after them. Networks don't bother big advertisers because there is too much income at risk.
Let's begin our look at commercials for personal care at the top. Hair care companies may have done the most and best research about hair care than any commercial product manufacturer. But their products only heal what other products have broken. In fact, most hair would be best treated with a simple soap wash every few days. The hair of a person who eats a healthy diet will look good so long as the natural elements of hair are not stripped away by chemicals. Wash, rinse with clear water, then leave the hair alone for a few days, other than brushing.
Any commercials to do with mouth care are deceptive, if not outright harmful. I have not seen one teeth brushing commercial in decades that shows a person brushing their teeth in a way that would avoid cavities. On the contrary, the ones I have seen would promote cavities and sensitive teeth. Neither is necessary, but both keep other industries like dentistry and teeth cleaners alive and flourishing.
The mouth (along with the skin) is a secondary part of the body's immune system. After the major immune system component in the gut, the mouth is the first line of defense against attack by diseases. Kill all microbes in your mouth and you destroy one component of your immune system. Wash your body with soap thoroughly in a daily shower and you will decimate another part. Take doctor-prescribed antibiotics and you will destroy the major component of your immune system. That's what these products you see advertised do. The advertisers make fortunes on your devotion to their somewhat or totally harmful products. Your doctor will come to know you intimately from your frequent visits.
Skin care products are a travesty against good skin health. To begin, cosmetics for women produce a look that studies have shown men do not prefer over the look of no cosmetics. Men know that cosmetics mean "fake" and act accordingly. Women who claim that they make themselves up to make themselves feel better have self esteem issues. Are they trying to compete for attention with other women or attract them?
Clothing fashions are another issue of brainwashing. A man or woman who believes that he or she performs better at work because they look better is a victim of effective advertising and self deception. Most bosses look at job performance before apparel. Should you be known for your good looks or your job skills?
Teeth whitening was originally used by movie actors to make them stand out from other actors on set. Teeth whitening, like fashion and cosmetics, was an industry founded by people who wanted to sell something that people did not need, except to impress others. Generally speaking, those with real talent and skill do not subscribe to that kind of fake.
People who whiten their teeth to look better in real life do indeed stand out. They stand out as being needy, prepared to do anything to get attention. Anyone who chooses a life mate based on white teeth, fashionable clothing, beautiful makeup, type of footwear or kind of car driven is bound for breakup when the fake wears off. Yet that is what TV commercials teach in North America, where the divorce rate is now well over 50% and a majority of kids in school classrooms live in single parent households.
Generally speaking, if you depend on TV commercials or programs to tell you how to live your life you will live a troubled life. And probably in debt.
When you think about buying something you have seen advertised on TV, remember that the choice is yours. Will the long term disadvantage of harm to you outweight the short term benefits? Of this you may be certain, the advertiser always wins. The advertiser has no obligation to benefit you, only to make you believe that you will benefit from the product. What will you believe?
You may think that what you have just read is opinion by one person. It's not. I don't care what you do or wear or how you live your life. That is your business not mine. I don't have time or interest in meddling in your life.
I do take an interest in helping people to think about choices they make, what effects those choices have on themselves and on others. If you "dress for success" to impress others, you will have bought into the model that industry leaders want. You will be a follower, not a leader. A consumer, not an independent innovator.
Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about inexpensive solutions to major social problems. If you have hear the word "sheeple" you understand that what you have read above is indeed a social issue.
Learn more at http://billallin.com