Here’s a strange quirk of mine: I mute all TV commercials.The first person I saw do it was my grandfather. Then I noticed my father did it as well from time to time. As I got older I started to mute TV commercials as well.
There are some practical reasons for this. First off, TV commercials are very loud to me. I can be listening to dialogue in a show and be blasted by a car salesman commercial within seconds. The audiophile in me can’t stand it. But that’s a personal reason – coming for a guy who finds the hum of fluorescent lighting irritating or too much 3-5 kHz or 300 Hz in a song maddening. Secondly, at 3 1/2 minutes a break, I can talk to my wife about something or read a page or two of a book. Also, if I mute the commercials I am more likely to get up and clean up the dishes during the commercial breaks. So, improved communication, information gathering, and household chores – all with the click of a button!
More importantly, for me, there is an emotional and spiritual reason. As a minister, I firmly believe that our Christianity can be culturally influenced by many things, including commercials. With each commercial, we get a sermon regarding what we should value as a nation. This translates to what we should spend money on – something an advertiser tells us to value. Commercials stoke the fire of materialism in a person’s life. The church is not immune to this at all. I was at a large conference recently where one of the popular topics was the evils of consumerism. Of course, I had a ten piece praise band, lights, videos, a comedian, a magician, free books and DVDs, and 400 kiosks to help me understand just how bad consumerism had become in America. Commercials are the foundation of that. Advertisers believe your convictions and values can be swayed in a mere thirty seconds time. Why do they believe that? Because we’ve proven it to be true in the past.
Christians should certainly believe in the power of Satan to tempt and destroy our lives. However, Satan (unlike God) has limited resources with which to do this. Though I am not saying our culture is authored by Satan, I do think he makes good use of what we’ve given him. Why spiritually attack a believer when you can lull him to sleep? To me, that’s Satan’s main objective – not to visit someone with direct demonic attack (though that happens) but to create a level of dysfunction in the Christian’s life by distracting him from “the one thing necessary.” Though commercials can certainly be entertaining, they are also “preaching” to you. The question is: are we buying what they’re selling?