One of the most pervasive and irritating aspects of modern life is the sheer amount of advertising we are exposed to on a daily basis. I manage to escape most of that advertisement by only watching public television and listening to public radio. I don't read weekly or monthly magazines which these days seem to contain more advertisement and editorials with product promotions than original content. However, until recently I had been unable to escape ever more and increasingly annoying ads on the Internet.
This has now changed. I have found a simple, free solution using css stylesheets called adsubstract. The developers claim that this solution works with most browsers. I have tested it with Safari. It is very easy to set up and it works like a charm! Instead of annoying pop-ups and flashy ads all I get now is a white space where the ad would have been. I can finally read the newspaper without having to close pop-ups that superimpose themselves over the page I am reading and without being distracted by ads demanding my attention.
My advertisement abstinence has a curious effect: I don't know what the latest "must have" gadgets or fashions are and so I have no desire to rush out and buy them. When I go shopping, I am always surprised at all the STUFF that is out there and that people seem so keen to buy even though I cannot even imagine a need for it. Advertisement does work, even on people who do not want to get sucked into the consumerist lifestyle that is so pervasive in our society. I have always tried to be reasonably frugal but it does take a very conscious effort to not buy things that are not absolutely necessary. The most important aspect of being able to resist from buying things only because they are on offer is to understand the difference between needs and wants.
Advertisement makes that distinction very difficult for most consumers. So many things look so promising and seem to make so much sense when they are pushed by commercials and ads. According to the magazine PEDIATRICS "Advertising is a pervasive influence on children and adolescents. Young people view more than 40 000 ads per year on television alone and increasingly are being exposed to advertising on the Internet, in magazines, and in schools. This exposure may contribute significantly to childhood and adolescent obesity, poor nutrition, and cigarette and alcohol use. Media education has been shown to be effective in mitigating some of the negative effects of advertising on children and adolescents." I think this finding not only applies to children, it applies to all of us.