Back in fourth grade, I was involved in a musical where we acted out important life values. One of the few songs I remember from the play has to do with being unique. A portion of the lyrics are as follows: “Being different is the key to a lifetime guarantee. When you’re yourself, then you’re the best.” From a very young age, we teach our children to be different, to not follow the crowd and to stand up for what they believe in. By giving in to advertisements, aren’t we doing the opposite? We’re showing kids that it’s okay to want what everyone else has and to crave acceptance or high social status. We’re taking the old Dr. Seuss quote of, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” and making it, “Why stand out when you were born to fit in?”
If we didn’t have ads, the world would be a different place. Beauty standards wouldn’t be as strong. We would have more independence. We would all be a little richer. Advertisements and commercials dictate how we should look and what we need to buy in order to achieve a higher social status. According to NerdWallet.com, Americans are building up credit card debt, on average, above $15,000 per household. Whether or not this can be solely attested to advertisements is unknown, but what is known is that ads take away our individuality.
According to “Metro,” on Monday, September 12, all 68 of the advertisements in Clapham Common train station in London, United Kingdom, were replaced with pictures of cats. From big ones and small ones to black ones and striped ones, the feline photographs will remain up for the next two weeks, giving subway riders a feel of what it’s like to live in a world without advertisements.
James Turner, the founder of the responsible organization, explains it all on his article published on “Medium.” This project titled Citizens Advertising Takeover Service (C.A.T.S.), was started by Glimpse, a group of people who hope to show everyone what a great place the world can be. Turner stated, “Instead of focusing on the problem, we create ‘glimpses’ of a world where things are getting better.”
When I first read the multiple articles about C.A.T.S., an advertisement-free world was surprising to me. Ads surround us to the point where I personally have built up an immunity to them. From school band programs to separating intense moments in TV shows, ads interrupt our lives on a daily basis.
Companies are drawing consumers in with their eye-catching, emotion-hitting ads, and tempting us to purchase products we don’t even need. In his article on “Medium,” Turner also wrote that, “We want agencies and brands to be mindful of the power they wield and to use it to encourage positive values in society. Things like empathy and tolerance, community and togetherness deserve to be at the heart of our culture.”
São Paulo, South America’s largest city (worldatlas), opted to go advertisement free in 2006 . This Brazilian city responded well to the ban. City goers are now able to see the city as more than just an economical, heavily populated megalopolis, but as an aesthetic, architecturally unique representation of Brazilian life and culture.
My challenge to you is this: count how many advertisements you see in one week and think about how different life would be without them.
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org