With the use of free adblock plugins in internet browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox or Google Chrome it has become easy to fight advertising - at least on the Internet.
Think of it, marketing, advertising, public relation are modern names for what used to be called propaganda. Advertising is certainly not new and to some extent unavoidable. However, with the rise of TV and the Internet its power is now threatening the functioning of democratic and economic systems on a global scale. A law to gradually eliminate political and commercial advertising would:
- reduce consumer spending
- reduce production of things we don't need
- reduce energy and resource consumption needed to create and maintain not needed products
- reduce waste and pollution
- encourage an economic system that is not based on increasing consumption
- improve our health and happiness (we are not told anymore that we have diseases or undiscovered needs)
- and more...
Here are some ways how we can fight advertising:
- When browsing the Internet or checking your web-mail we can automatically and effectively fight advertisements with free browser plug-ins like Adblock Plus (Firefox, Chrome, IE).
- We can use and configure our web browser to stop unwanted cookies and scripts to minimize email spam.
- If TV in our country shows more than 5 minutes ads per hour - we can get our news from the Internet or radio or a good paper newspaper (it is easier to skip the ads there).
- If radio has more than 5 minutes commercials per hour we can switch to Internet radio channels
- If also our Internet news/radio sites show commercials in their videos & audio broadcasts we can switch to "proper" alternative media.
- We can put a label "No junk-mail please!" on our mailbox or door (and catch the poor delivery guy at least once when ignoring it)
- We can choose not to earn our living or any money advertising a product - unless we are convinced it serves mankind. Even bloggers have alternatives.
- We can pay attention and try not to fall for the many hidden traps of advertising on the Internet.
- If there is an unavoidable commercial, we can turn off the sound at least (and read a newspaper )
- If we are addicted to TV, we can make TV watching less convenient by creating obstacles and distractions (hobbies).
- We can turn of commercial TV channels on TVs in public places, like restaurants hospitals if everyone approves (possible in some countries without problems e.g. Finland)
- We can try not to face a TV screen when eating in a restaurant or waiting somewhere - if turning it off is not an option. We can also tell the waiter or manager that we do not appreciate commercials when eating.
- Avoid shopping malls with monitors showing commercials or "infomercials".
- We can get to know the enemy and study its strategies (see also the list of its strengths below)
Get to know the enemy and beware of its strengths to fight advertising:
- moving pictures and sound (strongest impact)
- moving pictures no sound (strong)
- sound (medium)
- pictures (medium)
- spoken words (medium)
- written text (low)
The above list is based on my understanding of modern cognitive learning theory which I would think should also apply to the impact of unwanted information e.g. advertising.
Based on learning theory and practical reasons a newspaper is a better alternative to TV news for the following reasons:
- Written text is interactive i.e. the reader can choose what to read, how fast and how often.
- The reader can avoid much of the advertising in newspapers easier that on TV.
- Newspapers have many hours of content to choose from - this also means we can keep our mind on things that interest us.
- Newspapers can offer more in-depth information as well as references to sources.
- They can be used as search-able databases much easier than TV news
A possibly superior competitor to "paper news" is news on the Internet. Internet papers share most of the strengths of paper-news but can also include:
- interactive multimedia content (sound and moving pictures)
- instant search-able information
- links to external content
- dynamic content (comments by readers and responses by writers)
The downside of Internet news pages is they may not be as portable and convenient at times - although this is changing with ipads etc. Another potential drawback is they can show moving ads (if not blocked) and their content can be manipulated after "print".
We would do best to fight advertising while maximizing learning if we chose to use
- good alternative online news sites
- good mainstream online news sites
- good mainstream newspapers
- good alternative newspapers
The worst choice is to get our information from commercial TV with more than 5 min advertising.