Will we be judged by our commercials?

Published 1:01 am Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What if years from now, maybe a couple thousand of them, humans looking for information about our civilization have only our television commercials to discover what we were like?

I had this thought after watching a documentary trying to piece together what life was like 2,000 or so years ago. There wasn’t much to go on since people didn’t spend time writing stuff down and there was no Twitter or Facebook to record their lives. I guess trying to survive in ancient times demanded most of their attention. So all we have to go on is the stuff we dig up and what “experts” tell us it tells us about life long ago.

Anyway, I am betting someone from that time looking at what we think was true about their lives would laugh at how wrong we got it. All our carbon dating and deciphering hieroglyphics probably doesn’t paint a picture of what everyday living was about for John Doe of long ago.

So that made me wonder what, if by some strange chance, all we leave behind for posterity are our commercials. With this in mind, I spent a while watching and noting what, if you judge by advertising, is important to humans in 2017.

First, we are obsessed with having white teeth. Well, it is mostly women who are obsessed with the whiteness of their teeth. Future humans will no doubt be amazed to watch women comparing the shade of their teeth to a tissue.

And ladies don’t you do this regularly? Don’t you go to lunch with friends and sit around performing the tissue test and discussing at length how to improve the color of your teeth?

Interestingly, many of the ads addressed women’s concerns. (Maybe because of the time of day I chose to watch them). So in addition to white teeth, archeologists will conclude that women were intensely interested in getting rid of belly fat (a woman named Marie was our guru), eliminating wrinkles, and having pouty lips and long spider-looking eyelashes. Hair color and how women smelled got a fair amount of attention too.

As for the men, their interests included driving the most bad a** truck or the fastest car. They also wanted ways to cover graying hair and they enjoyed low calorie beer after doing a strenuous work out.

What about kids and animals — well they were smarter than the adults on the planet. However, they did enjoy their fruity cereal and Meow Mix. Oh and 2,000 years from now society will marvel at the fact our cats could sing and we had a lizard that sold insurance.

When mankind looks back through the lenses of time to find what mattered to humans in the past, it will be, in no specific order, some of these things — treating irritable bowel syndrome, the softness/strength/cleaning ability of toilet tissue (goes along with that IBS thing), a great love for milk and cheese, (and how to enjoy it if you are lactose intolerant) insurance of all types — car, house, health and burial, cell phone plans, losing weight and where to buy a car if your credit sucks.

How I’d love to see the documentary that comes out when they dig up the advertisements showing the angels that once walked the earth. You know the ones documented in commercials showing beautiful human-looking young women with wings who prance around happily in their underwear performing miracles that make cellulite disappear.

They will also learn a great deal from localized commercials. For example, they’ll hear of a savior known as the Alabama Hammer who amazingly got thousands of dollars for folks after accidents.

Sure I know it is not likely our civilization will leave behind only the commercial messages that flow continually into our consciousness. Nevertheless, if that were the case what a picture it paints of our lives in 2017.

Hopefully, if our way of existing does end, future historians will not conclude our civilization fell due to erectile dysfunction.


Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.