5000+ Advertisements Can Be Wrong
I read recently that media consumption by the average American has increased from 5.2 hours per day to 9.8 hours over the past 70 years. This study also revealed the following about the average advertisement exposures that come with that increased consumption:
Average number of advertisement and brand exposures per day per person: 5,000+
Average number of “ads only” exposures per day: 362
Average number of “ads only” noted per day: 153
Average number of “ads only” that we have some awareness of per day: 86
Average number of “ads only” that made an impression (engagement): 12
To break this down simply: out of the 5000+ ads and brand exposures that we experience every day, we only really respond to 12 of them.
What advertisers have learned is that repetition is the key. The more they expose you to an idea, a slogan or a brand, the better the chances they have at being one of the 12 actual, real impressions you'll respond to on a daily basis.
But what this study didn't acknowledge is the effect all of those 5000+ daily attempts at our attention is actually having on us as we are told thousands of times a day that we deserve more and better.
We are being told over and over again that we can seize the day, take control of our life, make our own way in the world, and the first step toward having it all is to spend money on things that will help us believe this more deeply about ourselves.
The season of Lent is a time for us to push back against the self-centered narrative of the dominant culture we find ourselves within. We should listen to the words of Jesus, which offered a different narrative.
"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."
Jesus' call to discipleship is a "race to the bottom" where we find our lives by losing them, where we realize that in God's economy the first are often last, and the last become first.
Walter Brueggeman wrote that, "To deny self means to recognize that I cannot be a self-starter, cannot be self-sufficient, self-made, self securing..." He goes on to say that to try to live for ourselves "...will end in isolation and fear and greed."
And then he noted, "[Living self-centeredly] will not work even if all the consumer ads tell us to have life for ourselves."
May you find ways to push back against the false message of self-centeredness that surrounds you, and deny yourself to follow Jesus more fully. May you discover that becoming less in the kingdom of God means becoming so much more than you could have ever imagined.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.