While on vacation, ScrapperMom and I discovered a curious thing. We were watching a children’s TV show to keep daughter #1 busy and suddenly the show stopped and changed to voices and images that encouraged us to buy a bunch of stuff that we don’t need. Amazed by such a brazen attempt to sell me something, I asked our host about it who informed us that what we were watching were “commercials”.
Ah yes! Commercials! I had forgotten that such things still exist. You see, ScrapperMom and I purchased a Tivo back in 2003, and for the last 5 and a half years have been commercial free. And it has been wonderful. After watching way too many of these while on vacation, I had forgotten how insidious and manipulative they could be, and am glad that our daughter is still too young to be enticed by a toy dog that can roll over by itself, or a princess on a horse that can walk by itself.
I am often asked by friends, coworkers, and family if I have seen a certain commercial that may be funny or entertaining in some way. “No,” I usually say, “we don’t watch commercials.” Originally our disdain for commercials was simply practical: commercials account for 27% of total network TV time. We quickly found that with Tivo we could watch 30 minutes of TV in 22 minutes. We filled the saved 8 minutes with more interesting things, like reading, blogging, etc.
Having seen so many commercials during vacation, however, it has become abundantly clear to me that having Tivo saves us money. Exposure to advertisement makes you aware of things that you didn’t know you needed. It’s hard not to keep up with the Joneses when you are constantly bombarded with indications that you are too fat, too thin, too ugly, too short, too bald, don’t drive a good enough car, deserve a great vacation, etc. But life is not that bad when you don’t have all these unreal standards against which to measure yourself.
Tivo is near the top of our top 10 list of must have gadgets, and it’s nice to see that after having it for so many years, we are still realizing new value in it.