Too Many Messages Via TV

Not all television commercials are of Super Bowl interest or quality.  A few remain entertaining, like the one for a spaghetti sauce in which a father, in his attempt to make dinner more interesting, uses a remote control to steer a toy helicopter around the table to his wife and each of his children in order to drop a load of tomato sauce on the pasta, the remote control finally going haywire so that the copter crashes into the china cabinet, creating an unforgettable dining experience for the family, despite destroying furniture, linens and clothing.

Most commercials, however, seem to be mind-numbing attempts to make us buy drugs, cosmetics, or gadgets, or they are messages from ambulance-chasing attorneys telling us about the heaps of money we can rake in by filing injury lawsuits against those drug companies that have already tried to absolve themselves of blame by using tiny print and fast but quiet announcer voices to list the myriad side effects (including possible death) their products present.  One such attorney plea I watched yesterday afternoon went something like this:

ATTENTION THOSE WHO HAVE USED YASMO OR YASMINE!

If you have experienced heart palpitations, shortness of breath, faintness, stroke or even death,

CALL NOW!

You may be eligible for monetary compensation.  We can help!

Such commercials are becoming more common in our litigation-addicted culture, perhaps partly because drug commercials are shown about every ten minutes.  Half the time I can’t even tell what ailments the drugs are for, because I get caught up in the friendly, happy people walking on beaches with their dogs and friends.  Our country seems obsessed by what is too often perceived as the easy fix of a pill from the pharmacy.  We have honed our instant gratification needs almost down to an art form, one further developed by Madison Avenue toward the many, who seek easy ways to become thin, beautiful, healthy, or rich.

I’m not sure about the statistics on how many TV commercials the average Joe watches on a weekly basis, but I’m guessing the number is staggering.  We live in a time when we are assaulted by so many unsolicited messages through TV, radio, texting, FaceBook, cellphones, and billboard ads, that many of us have simply shut down some of our receptors to prevent overload from the terrifying number of communications thrown at us, often indiscriminately, by all and sundry agents, all with their own agendas.

After a while, we begin to get numb, because the personal meaning of so much of what we watch, hear, and read through the media becomes negligible.  I find it tragic that about the only thing that gets our undivided attention these days is a weather catastrophe, like a hurricane, or a mass shooting.  We are on overload from too many choices and messages, the irony being that because there are more and more on an hourly basis, each becomes worth less and less until very little means much anymore, as the world becomes louder and more obnoxious in order to get our attention, divided or not.      JB

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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