In the early nineties I reached a tipping point. It was during the pre-Christmas period and I was drunk. I was watching commercial television and was galvanised out of my seat by a particularly inane, enraging, advert. I grabbed a carving knife that I’d been using to cut up pizza and, yelling some blistering language, stabbed the screen, hard enough that a small chip flew across the room. I lived in a first floor flat and the next day I launched the television from my living room window, which made a satisfying connection with the earth accompanied by a significant feeling of liberation which I feel to this day.
Of 27,200,000 households in the UK, I am one of 1,360,000 which does not have a TV Licence and an unknown smaller number which does not own a television, whilst a significant number of those that do, own more than one. Frankly, the ubiquity of television and the consequences scares the living shit out of me.
I have battled with advertising for years and I detest it with a bone deep hatred which is significantly linked to my experience of mental illness, the battle with which means that of all things in the general mishmash of life, I detest deception the most.
Whilst advertising in general attracts a significant amount of my rage and hatred, television as a medium is included, as a means of social deception, manipulation and control. In Britain, there is a manufactured dominant social narrative which many people accept without question, which includes utter nonsense like, blaming the poor for poverty, blaming disabled people as malingering scroungers and blaming our social ills on immigrants.
To get some idea of how many are subscribing to the dominant social narrative just look at the sales of the Sun, Daily Mail, Express, Telegraph and the Times . In fact the majority of the UK press is seen as right wing with the Daily Mail way ahead of the field, with 44% regarding it as very right wing . What people vote for with their money is a more reliable poll than most official polls.
However, no other media can hold a candle to television, for which people pay a great deal of money to be bombarded by programming, news and advertising in which they have no significant personal input. The ultimate television receivers are people, not the box the medium comes in.
It is rare, in my experience, that people question the role of television in the home and in their lives. Television is as universally accepted as a fridge freezer or cooker. My views are very far from the norm. That too scares me. We’re all media slaves now and, in that, I am no exception, except, perhaps, to the extent I battle with it.
My primary source of news is via the Internet and I use an Ad Blocker in my browser. Some sites now block access unless Ad Blocker is switched off, or ask me to white list the page to allow that organisation to be able display ads. Some of the pop-up messages express a degree of indignation that I am blocking advertisements on their site and therefore their income, as if there is no moral or ethical dimension to advertising other than as a resource stream.
Not only is there a moral or ethical dimension to advertising, exposure to advertising reduces me to a basket case, because due to life long depression and social phobia, among of the worst triggers for my mental ill health are deceit and deception, and advertising is, at its core, nothing if not deceitful, on the part of advertisers, and deceptive, for the recipients. The purpose of advertising is to persuade people to part with their money for a specific product, to promote the desirability of that specific product and to impress that on our conscious or subconscious minds.
There are some pretty wild claims for the number of adverts the average person sees in a day, stretching into the thousands, a more reliable figure is in the hundreds, but they really are everywhere .
Spending on advertising reached £22.1 billion in 2017, that’s an awful lot of money to spend to mess with our heads . And it does, the insanity of Black Friday is testimony to that. Capitalism wants our money, regardless of the environment or our natural human needs, people are profit and profit is GOD!
Having spent a significant part of my life in counselling, nothing is truer or more puissant than, ‘unto yourself be true’. Mental ill health is on the rise . There are many reasons for this, poverty, debt, insecurity at work and at home, falling wages, government cruelty and oppression, but high on the list must be considered, lies and deception, falseness and wilful deceit. We do not react well to deceit and lies, they are deeply toxic and divisive and make us ill. We are creatures for whom making sense matters. It is the start of 2019 and it is harder than ever to make any sense of the world and that is vitally important to our mental and physical well being.
It is in our nature to tell stories, even before there were written histories, there were cave drawings telling the stories of humanity. Our stories are themed, there are love stories, adventure stories, travel stories, fiction and non-fiction, but two types of story dominate, triumph over adversity and the triumph of good over evil. I’ve never met anyone who likes a bad ending, where the hero dies, the baddies win, evil and chaos triumph. Those lacking in human empathy, care and consideration are called psychopaths and are mentally ill.
This has nothing to do with religion, these things are innate to us as human beings. We are moral creatures and we forsake that at our great peril.
However, in the modern world, a great wrong is being perpetrated and it is succeeding on the basis of lies. Call it vulture capitalism or neoliberalism, but what it comes down to is the triumph of greed over humanity, nature and the world. Tory politicians lie to the people, perpetrating the myth that government cares for the people even whilst destroying our lives and killing us. More then this, though, people who want a publicly owned health service, housing for all, a welfare state on which all boats rise, fully funded public services including emergency services, are being monstered, denigrated and despised by those who grasp only after profit. It is a war of the rich over the poor. The gloves are off and they are winning and, through lies and propaganda, many of the public support them against their own best interests.
For me, personally, it has never been more important to beware the public narratives of politicians, the main stream media and advertising, peddling lies. As someone on a very modest income, advertising is useless to me, it’s just self serving nonsense. Advertising does not have my best interests at heart. No matter how new, improved or anything else they boast a product may be, they just want my money and I am perfectly capable of deciding what I want in life without any prompting from advertisers and if I need advice, I ask family and friends or make good use of my browser. Nor do I need politicians to tell me how to live. I am still alive after 67 years and with no thanks to the party continuing the ruin of Margaret Thatcher. It will be a cold day in hell before I submit to their moral vacuum.
What is truly shocking in the world at present is that everything is being turned on its head, Greed is a virtue, poverty is a sin. Being sick or disabled is malingering and illness deception and must be penalised . Wealth is rewarded, poverty is a moral failing and penalised/sanctioned.
Not only is there a war on the poor, there is a war on truth and we are now living in a Tory Orwellian dystopia. The challenge isn’t just to survive until we can get rid of the Tories, it is to protect our minds and resist the onslaught against us, which would have us doubt empirical reality and common sense. One of the best ways to aid mental survival, is to spend time with nature, even if that means just looking out of the window. Nature is a whole lot more than a resource to be exploited, it is what gives us life and sustains us every moment of our lives. We each have an inalienable right to be here, by right of birth and nature. Whoever denies that is a monster and a waste of honest space. Whatever the Tories are doing, hold on to this thought, we are better than them, they are an abomination. That is the truth. Look in your heart and know it. That is not something that we need rationalise, it is a self evident truth, even though it takes courage and strength to hold on.
These are incredibly and unbelievably dark days for humanity. I will pass no judgement on those driven to take their own lives because of utter penury and despair. They are not weak, they are the victims of Tory crimes. For their memory’s sake, for each others sakes, for our children’s sakes, we have to hold on, resist and fight with everything we have. Life is such a precious gift, those who denigrate it, oppress and cause ruin are a curse on life and survival has now become a revolutionary act. We are so much better than those who abuse the power of great office to cause us harm. Fight to live.
Keith Ordinary Guy