Friday, May 29, 2009

Media Influence

How much toothpaste do you put on your toothbrush?

Do you put a line of toothpaste from one end of the bristles to the other, or do you use a little bead about the same size as the tip of your pinky?

For years, I had fed my toothbrush with that full line of toothpaste, but at some point in my life – probably at a time when I was almost out of toothpaste – I realized that I could brush my teeth just fine by using only a little bead of toothpaste instead.

Same effect; the only difference being that there were no longer any clumps of unused toothpaste falling into the sink, and a tube of toothpaste suddenly lasted 3 times longer

Which got me wondering, “Why had I ever thought it was necessary to use so much in the first place when I didn’t need to?”

What I realized was that my parents taught me how to brush my teeth, but it was the TV that taught me how much toothpaste to use. Without even realizing it, I had been influenced by every toothpaste commercial I had ever seen to cover my brush with toothpaste from end to end.

I was indoctrinated into this mentality from my youth, even though it was unnecessary and wasteful. In a word, it was wrong.

It doesn’t bother me that toothpaste companies would want me to use toothpaste faster (and therefore need to buy more sooner), but what does bother me is that I was subtly manipulated to think a certain way, and I never even knew it was happening. I never questioned it. I never even thought about it. The “thinking” had been done for me.

All for a corporate dollar.

When I first started shaving I used to coat my face with about a ¼” of shaving cream. Why? Because that’s how I had seen it done on TV. Today, I use just enough to barely coat my face. A regular can of Barbasol now lasts me the better part of a year instead of a couple months.

I remember seeing a commercial decades ago (and long before I even started shaving) that made a big deal about a disposable razor that could “shave 10 tough beards”. The commercial showed a bunch of manly football players in a locker room all passing a razor around from one to another – not something you’ll see in today’s AIDS influenced world – and acting incredulous that the same blade could actually shave 10 of them! Wow! (It should be noted that they all had about ¼” of shaving cream on their faces.)

For decades I used to use a razor for about 2 weeks before throwing it away for another. Then one day, just for kicks, I decided to see how long I could actually shave with the same cheap disposable razor. It lasted for months. I was shocked.

I started using a new razor in January of this year. I only threw it away a week ago. Funny thing is, now that I’m using a new razor, I find that I’m suddenly cutting & nicking myself.

Toothpaste. Shaving cream. Disposable razors.

Trivial things, yes, but they start adding up, and they are not the only things that TV has influenced (taught? indoctrinated? manipulated?) my mind about.

Why are our medicine cabinets so full of drugs & ointments? Because TV has taught us that they should be. It’s “normal”. Commercials tell us what we need, and movies & shows reinforce the concept by showing us medicine cabinets that are always full of stuff.

TV shows us that when we drink beer, we will have a great time and be surrounded by good looking women with large breasts.

TV shows us what to think about sex. TV show us how a “family” acts at home. TV shows us that fathers are idiots who aren't really necessary and can’t do anything right except be the butt of a joke.

TV tells us what to like, when to like it, and how much we should like it. TV tells us what to eat, what to wear, who to love, where to go, and what to do when we get there.

In short, it tells us how we are supposed to live. And without even thinking about it, we pattern our lives after what we see. We live the way TV tells us too.

And why not?

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.

* Number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hours, 47 minutes

* Percentage of Americans that regularly watch television while eating dinner: 66

* Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5

* Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680

* Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54

* Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900

* Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500

* Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000

* Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000

* Number of 30-second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child: 20,000

* Number of TV commercials seen by the average person by age 65: 2 million


Update 6/3/09 This related story seemed timely: TV Causes Learning Lag in Infants


bonnie: said...

Well then! I've already pulled all of my daughter's toys out of her room this morning...why stop there? We filled in the Neilson survey this year (and made 30 bucks!), but we really didn't have to fill it out at all. We only watch videos, and those don't count. But still, I know those videos are doing exactly what your statistics suggest, and I'm in just the right mood today to do something about it.

MamaHen said...

Excellent post. So very true!

Anonymous said...

Excellent article!!

Kathy said...

You are so right! Another example of advertisement influence is filling a plate to the rim with syrup when eating pancakes. Such a waste!