Living Without Advertising: How to Escape the Messages

"I think maybe the key to eating healthy is not eating any food that has a TV commercial."     Chris Rock (parody Twitter account)

Letters by  Mordecai Ardon , 1966

Letters by Mordecai Ardon, 1966

It's hard to imagine modern life without the constant exposure to advertising. How many phone books appear on our doorstep each year? How much of our daily mail consists of catalogs, credit offers, and coupons? We're used to the constant chatter, but it's more than a pesky annoyance. Advertising undermines our joy by suggesting that who we are and what we have is not enough. The more we're exposed to commercials, the more we're left with a nagging sense of dissatisfaction. If we have to be convinced that we need a product, we really don't.

Drôle de tête by  Bruno Parmentier

Drôle de tête by Bruno Parmentier

Here are three simple steps to stop the flow of advertising into your home:

1.  Turn it down. My dad always muted TV and radio commercials when I was growing up, and now it's my habit too. But advertising is so frequent and pervasive that I don't always catch it. When I neglect to mute a commercial, my children alert me by yelling, "Publicité!". Apparently they're more tuned in to the messages than I am, so I'm glad they help our household avoid the noise.

Boîte à lettre by  Clément Gault

Boîte à lettre by Clément Gault

2. Get off the lists. You can permanently opt out of credit offers by mailing int the opt-out form at To stop phone book delivery at home, opt out here. (If you live in Oregon, you can opt out of both junk mail and phone books here.) These are legitimate sites that I have used before, and I'm glad I did.

An original gift idea: if you have a family member or friend who receives far too many catalogs and mail offers, have them collect their unwanted mail, and you (or your teen) can opt of these all at once by listing them at When I was teaching, the student leadership class did this for the teachers who had collected all their unwanted school mail in a box in the mailroom. What a blessing!

3. Focus your time online. Like dogs sighting squirrels, we are so easily distracted by information online! When I sit down at the computer, I'm learning to jot down the tasks I want to complete before I unlock the screen. My next goal is to set a timer for finishing each task. We all need down time to relax, but we shouldn't let media tell us how to spend that time.

What do you do to avoid advertising and its influence on you or your family?

More posts in the Living Without Series:

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