When it was time to leave the secluded lake house after 5 days with no technology or human contact, I was ready to interact with the world around me again. However, there was one really strange thing that happened soon after:
Way before I reached for my iPhone or hurried to find an internet signal, I wanted to find some good food. My time was really amazing, as I mentioned in last week’s post, but all I could think about was high-quality food. I went to the first restaurant I could find and picked a table in front of a TV. It was tuned to a 24-hour news station, and I was excited to see what had happened in the world while I was away.
I ordered a steak, watched TV and tried to relax. Unfortunately, the relaxation didn’t last very long. The longer I sat in front of the TV, the more uncomfortable I became in my spirit. I couldn’t figure it out. At first, I thought I was having this “holier than thou” moment where I was too good for TV after my sabbatical.
Was I so sanctified now, that I shouldn’t mix myself up with such worldly, trivial matters?
I became so uncomfortable that I eventually had to cut my meal short and get away from that evil box!
For days, I wrestled with what happen that night at the restaurant. Why did the TV make me feel so uncomfortable? I mean it was just the news–not a trashy sitcom or anything. And then it hit me: It was the commercials that made me uncomfortable.
I had just spent 5 days without seeing a single advertisement that told me what I was lacking in my life. Then, minding my own business, I walked into that restaurant and that stupid box in the corner kept telling me about all the things I was missing.
For 5 straight days, no one told me to upgrade my car, my furniture, my TV, or my phone. No one told me that I needed a certain brand to be more attractive to the ladies, and I never once heard that I needed more hair to get my confidence back.
I didn’t realize how much the Marketing Machine affected me until I removed myself from it. For those 5 days, I had no anxiety “to keep up.” And I didn’t play the Comparison Game with the world around me. It was bliss. Life was simple. Score keeping was not the norm. The Lord was my daily bread; therefore, true contentment reigned.
After this experience, I started seeking small ways to resist the effects of advertising in my life:
- In the car, I try to choose the iPod over the radio.
- Praise the Lord for DVR. I make it a point to not spend a large amount of time watching too much TV in the first place, but when I do watch it, I fast-forward through all commercials. (Except, let’s be honest–the Apple commercials. I’m always lured in to see what their newest products can do. The bite in the Apple logo is very appropriate.)
- Lastly, and this has been the biggest help, I try to never have the TV on in the background for “noise.” Changing my background “noise” to music or a message that I can control versus commercials (messages I can’t control) has made a big difference in my daily contentment.
Ads are not evil, and they allow us to get a lot of really great content for free, but some advertisements simply lie and manipulate and manufacture ridiculous desires within us that lead to our discontentment.
I thank God that He gave me an experience like that night at the restaurant to shed light on the power of constant advertisement flow. At least now I know that ads in the background do affect my spirit, even when I’m simply trying to watch the news.
Next week, I’ll wrap up the series by sharing the surprising thing that occurred when I got home.