Thursday, February 08, 2007

Commercials - the bane of my living room

Why do commercials affect me so negatively?
I wish it were not so,
for when they come on,
my head hurts.

It's like a big ASS comes farting out of the TV screen.

And so I must reach for the remote,
which creates dissent.

If I could,
I would be like everyone else,
and just ignore the commercials.
But there is no other option,
and I must be like myself.

I resent mind control.

I will not
drink their beer,
watch their movie,
or buy their car.

I will not be manipulated.

I must lack some filter
that everyone else has,
or maybe my ears are just too sensitive

Sometimes I do not like being me.

This is the next day, and I've had time to think more about this issue.

I think my distaste for commercials is rooted in three of the central traits of my personality.

I'm the poster child for adult ADHD;
I am HIGHLY distractable.
In college I had trouble finding a place to study.
The dorm was too noisy,
and the library was too quiet;
the books on any nearby shelf always beckoned for my attention.
I could always find a reason to procrastinate and do anything other than studying,
such as making up song lists for my band.

This explains my mediocre college grades.

And so I cannot resist the distraction of commercials;
they intrude on my serenity
and make it impossible to think about anything
other than what they are trying to sell me.
(Which I know is their purpose.)

My ears are extremely sensitive to input.
(I don't mean that I can hear better than other people,
because I often have trouble understanding speech).

I mean that sounds affect me more - or differently - than most people.

When I first started work for C&P Telephone in 1969, the business office where I worked had Muzak playing through the overhead speakers. The sounds of crappy elevator music nearly drove me crazy, although the office full of 75 other workers seemed unaffected. I remember holding both my hands over my ears trying to concentrate on writing memos.

And so commercials rivet my attention in a very uncomfortable way.

Is this a kind of insanity - experiencing a vastly different reality than anyone else?)

I crave independence of thought.
Some kind of internal "intrusion attempt alarm" (for want of a better word) goes off in my head whenever I suspect that I am the object of an attempt to manipulate me.
I cannot control the bristling feeling inside when a voice shouts at me from the TV set,
or the seductive scene begins
that will end in a car commercial
or an ad for a TV show or movie.

It doesn't really matter whether I like the product or not;
I just cannot stand being manipulated.

Is this a kind of insanity?

I grew up in the 1950s-60s during the struggle for Civil Rights and the conflict over the Vietnam War.
Now in retrospect I realize that I had been fed a pack of lies all along.

Lies about the inferiority of black people,
lies about the nobility of the southern cause in the Civil War,
lies about the Vietnam war,
lies about Russia,
lies about sex.

It took nearly a lifetime for me to come to my own conclusions about these issues.

In the 1960s I wasn't sure who was telling the truth about Vietnam.
In college I had John Birch Society friends and listened to their impassioned arguments;
I also had "hippie" friends whose walls were plastered with SNCC and SDC anti-war posters;
I also listened to their impassioned arguments.
I tried my best to understand each point of view,
because I sensed that the real truth lay somewhere in between.

I remember seeing news of forced school integration in the south;
the fire hoses being turned on crowds of black people;
the violence after Martin Luther King's assassination.
From our house I could see the smoke rising from the riots in Washington DC.
I believed violence and destruction was wrong.
(In retrospect I don't know how else such fundamental social change could have come about.)

All the same, I was not one of those brave souls who participated in the protest marches.
I served in the Navy during 1968-69
and immediately thereafter began a career with C&P Telephone Company,
and was too concerned about keeping my job and supporting my family.
I stayed on the sidelines of life,
letting other people with stronger convictions man the front lines.

Boy, this post is wandering far afield from its initial focus on my distaste for commercials.
I suppose I got going on the track of explaining how I have acquired a built-in distaste for attempts to convince me of something I know I should determine for myself.

Okay, now I've wasted sufficient time at work
instead of doing my job.

Do you see that this is a perfect example of my ADHD?

To be continued...


obxbill said...

Haha - I was wondering during the last part of that if you were going to eventually realize what a perfect example you were making. That was very cool and also, very true to heart. I'm looking forward to part II :)

Genevieve said...

When possible, I subject the commercials to the "Mutt" button as my father called it jokingly. I absolutely can't stand some of them. Those stupid diet ads (nutra-something?) are currently driving me crazy. In the ones for women, they seem to be targeting women who are already fairly small. "Look at me, I'm wearing a size 2." And I saw/heard another one today where the woman went to something smaller from a size 10. Give me a break.