I’ve thought of a reason why our kids might not be hopeless. I mean they probably will be, but not necessarily. Like my generation, they will play countless video games and refuse to read books that aren’t about zombies, vampires or wizards. But while we were slowly introduced to the tech media dominance that engulfs our every waking moment, they will have it all from the moment they’re born.
I’m 30 years old and have lived nearly my whole life with cable TV. But we didn’t have a VCR til I was 10, no internet until I was 14 (and we were early on that), and I didn’t have a cell phone or DVD player until I was an adult. When I was young I watched TV constantly, an endless parade of sitcoms and cartoons. And I saw the commercials. All of them. Even when we taped a program it was so touchy to fast forward that we’d usually just watch the commercials anyway.
Now I don’t want to sound like a young guy pretending to be old. Nothing is more ridiculous than a 30-year old saying things like “back in my day.” I’m not saying how hard we had it that we had to watch commercials. I’m saying our children won’t have to.
With DVR’s, movies on-demand, and netflix streaming we are entering an era of no commercials. Sure we have the 30 second clips that interrupt us when we watch a show on hulu, but I don’t think that will be the norm in the future. We will skip the commercials or they won’t be there.
My generation thinks they are cynical of commercials but then wax nostalgic about TV cartoons from their youth that were little more than toy commercials. Then we spent millions of dollars to awful watch movies based on those illiterate toy commercials (Transformers, GI Joe). We are too cynical to believe the unthinkable: that we are suckers who have fooled ourselves into thinking we are wise. You don’t watch over a million commercials in a lifetime without it affecting you, no matter how much you consider yourself above the sway of commercialism.
We might not be able to prevent our kids from TV, movie, video games, and the internet, but this will be the first generation of the media age that will be less exposed to commercials than the previous one. Maybe they’ll grow a healthy distrust for anyone that tries to sell them something. Maybe they’ll never see a political ad and have to learn about candidates through research (or more likely, they will just blindly pull levers). Maybe they won’t be the referred to as “The Dopey Generation” (though I’m coining that. Have you talked to modern teenagers? They are dumb). Maybe they at least won’t beg us for useless crap.