I know when I read critically I need to understand what I’m reading by considering the background of the author, the culture and time period something was written and look for bias and hidden assumptions. I should consider the possibility of opposition to all opinions shared and separate emotion from truth by being alert to the “shock tactic” or tear jerking appeals. I also need to evaluate the evidence by looking for unsubstantiated claims, verify sources, look for fairness from all angles and beware of statistics. This same perspective can and must be applied to television commercials, given most are trying make a sale.
It’s interesting how commercials attack our personal value. We are blasted with information on dieting, sexuality, incontinence, dating sites, make up, hair loss (or growth), clothes styles or even material products like a car, house, shoes, accessories, drinks or snacks, and more, that imply unless we buy the product for sale, we will surely be less than appealing or an utter failure in life!
Adding to the attack on our personal value, the speed at which our culture is changing, is downright frightening. Disrespect between adults, or children and adults is at an all time high, while general behavior is exceedingly rude and obnoxious. Television demonstrates and insists on self-reliance and independence nearly as soon as a child can talk. There was a comedy some years back where the baby in the crib was the central character as we listened to his thoughts regarding his dating father and girlfriend. Or recently, in a commercial, a child in a crib was a finance genius and shared his thoughts on how we should invest money!
Sometimes commercials use shock tactics to engage listeners. They use pictures of horrific crippled children or animals to convince us we need to give money to help them. The same strategy is used to compel people to send money for veterans and other causes. I’m not suggesting the causes aren’t compelling and genuine. It’s how the advertising is done that causes me to recoil.
Statistics are also used to manipulate how we think. Often this tactic is used for medications, dental facilities, car or health insurance, vacuums or other appliances and even the kind of bed you sleep in!
So I challenge you to think critically! Watching TV can be entertaining, as well as some commercials. But it goes back to my opening paragraph. No matter what we see or read, we must view it critically and decide if we are getting the truth, a biased opinion, a lie or a twisted version of what we are hearing! When we do, we can make much better choices and be better consumers.