We live in an age of information and idolatry overload, and we have become gluttons to sensory and tangible fulfillment. If the internet sites don’t satisfy us with news, tweets, and memes, then endless hours of TV can always fill the gap.
Gone are the days when the local stations signed off at midnight with striped test patterns or videos of the American flag and the Star-Spangled Banner. Most stations didn’t have enough programming to continue into the wee hours of the night. Not anymore.
I was up late one night—my creative mind churned at 2 AM when I wished it was dormant—and found myself channel surfing on the TV. Most of the shows at that hour are reruns or movies from various eras unless you have cable or satellite service that shows premium content. Even then, one can easily find stations with endless commercials.
These companies that spout claims of great bargains or must-have items are the quintessential sponsors that stations need to stay in business. Some channels are all advertisement. The Home Shopping Network got its start in St. Petersburg, Florida as a radio call-in shopping club. The show’s success enabled it to move on to another popular technology, combining two beloved American pastimes, shopping and watching television. Other broadcasting commercial companies sprouted up to vie for viewership. Many have faded away, but QVC (an acronym for Quality Value Convenience) remains a major competitor.
No matter the channel, they all attempt to woo us with items we don’t need at prices we can’t resist. They bring in celebrities to hock various wares in hopes that we, in our societal weakness, will cave and purchase that exclusive product for $39.95. But wait! If we act now, we can get a second one free (shipping and handling charges apply).
I couldn’t help laugh at the various techniques the sponsors used to convince us to spend our hard-earned cash. The attractive models tried to act out real-life scenarios where the product was the best solution to everyone’s problem. Then I realized that there are real people who would buy Pajama Jeans, Katsaks, and the Better Marriage Blanket—yes, that’s an actual advertised item. Apparently, there is a high divorce rate over flatulence.
Are we so devoid of self-worth that we succumb to bargains in an instant? Are we that lazy that we can’t go out and mingle with others while we shop? We should at least read the reviews before we pull out our credit cards.
I’ve noticed similar laziness affecting our knowledge. I admit that Googling something is convenient, but we shouldn’t take every bit of information at face value. From news stations to social sites, the stories are twisted and blended, making it difficult to determine what’s fact from fiction. A little research from other sources would help, but that takes time and energy. These days, we never have enough of either, or at least we convince ourselves of that.
We don’t always fall for the ploys of advertisers, but we sometimes let our guard slip. We have developed a precarious human condition for wanting everything as soon as possible, even things we don’t need. We search for value in the strangest of places, but rarely from within ourselves. We have discounted our lives to the point that we are like cheap tchotchkes taking up space.
It would be better if we stopped focusing on the stuff we collect and put more effort into bettering ourselves. We need to be honest, caring, and intelligent and share those traits freely with others. It might not be easy to attain or happen overnight, but it’s certainly a bargain for a better life.