12 years without advertisements

Getting rid of television

About 12 years ago I ditched my television. Anything I wanted to watch was available on the internet, and at some point a friend compared watching television to reading books, and it just felt ridiculous to watch TV ever since. His comparison went something like this:

“Watching television is like having a bookcase, but you don’t decide which books are in there. You have to know in advance when which book will be in your bookcase, as it’s put there by a company. You have to schedule your day so you’ll be able to read the books you want to read. When your book is available, you have to be there at the exact right moment, because the pages automatically turn. And you’ll be frequently interrupted with advertisements. You don’t know when the advertisments will be over, so you can’t really do anything else because otherwise you might be too late to continue reading when the page turns again.”

What a shitty bookcase. And people actually pay money to get one, and then pay a subscription fee to get the awful book reading experience.

So I got rid of my television. It was one of my best decisions ever.

Life without advertisements

I think that when I got rid of my television, I already had an ad blocker installed, or I got one soon after. And since I don’t listen to the radio, I don’t listen to ads either.

It’s practically impossible where I live to not be exposed to a single advertisement ever, because they are present in the physical world as well. They’re on cars, buses, billboards, etc. But I think I’ve gotten rid of 99% of them, compared to if I still lived in the city, watched television, listened to radio, and had no ad blocker.

What are the effects of getting rid of ads?

It’s hard to say, of course. I don’t have access to a clone of myself in a dimension where you’re forced to watch advertisements. What I can say is the following:

Buying stuff is not a subject in my brain.

Sure, I need to eat, so I think about when I’ll need to get groceries, and during the activity of buying groceries, my mind is occupied by that.

But other than groceries, I never think about buying anything. I’ll use my computer until it breaks down in a way that I can’t get it repaired. The last time I bought shoes was when my shoes had holes in them. The last time I bought a coat was in 2019. The last time I bought pants was also in 2019, luckily they are made of some kind of stretchy material, so they can take the fat I accumulated since 2020.

Of course, there are exceptions. If your car breaks down, you may need to get a new one. If you move to a different house, you may need to get new curtains, etc. But in general, I no longer get the impulse to buy stuff. Maybe that’s the gist of it: the necessity to buy something may still be there sometime, but the impulse is gone. I can’t prove it, but I think it’s because I’ve gotten rid of advertisements.

I don’t think you are immune to advertisements.

My mother hates advertisements more than anybody I know, but she thinks she’s immune to them because she experiences them as an annoying factor of life. She thinks ads will actually give the advertised company a negative image in her brain. Instead of asking her why she watches ads even though she thinks they’re annoying, I asked how often she thinks about buying things, other than groceries. The answer was: “A couple of times per week, sometimes a couple of times per day.”

I know this is a sample size of just 2 people, but there seems to be a correlation between watching ads and thinking about buying stuff. And I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have better usages of my time than thinking about buying stuff. And if I truly need something, I don’t need to see or hear an advertisement in order to take action.

“Have you noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff?” - George Carlin

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