Nothing measures American society more, or better, than television. Actually, commercials are even better because they combine television and buying things that we don't need. And what commercials are telling us is that we are becoming more A.D.D. with every passing moment.
That is right, the 30-second commercial is no longer the industry standard, as it has been for some time. Apparently 30 seconds has become too long for us to pay attention to the advertisers' message. Commercials have moved from 30 second stories to quick, 15 second bursts of image and motion and information.
So why? There are lots of reasons. First of all, everyone has a cell phone permanently attached to their ass, and they are on it no matter if there is a commercial on or not. Second, everybody and their brother has a DVR, so they are fast forwarding though the commercials while they watch their recorded episode of "Survivor." Third, we are all on Ritalin. Or Prozac. Or at least we should be, and we just can't stand to sit still for 30 seconds to watch a commercial unless there is an explosion or a car chase or a car chase that ends in an explosion. All that put together has made advertisers figure "Why spend the money when people aren't going to watch anyway."
There certainly are advantages. First of all, you air a lot more commercials in the same amount of time if you are dealing in 15 second spurts than when you are dealing in 30 second increments. Twice as many, actually. During a recent episode of a major sitcom on a major network, viewers were treated to five (5) ads in a minute and a half, two of which were for the same company. Plus, repeating that short message over and over and over allows that message to bore itself deep into your brain and lodge itself there.
So our A.D.D. is playing right into the hands of the "Mad Men" types who probably made us A.D.D. in the first place, and the perpetual cycle is allowed to continue. And maybe it is a good idea. We should start doing that here. Instead of one post of several paragraphs each day, how about thirty one-sentence posts each day. That would be nutso. But in the end, the worlds of advertising and television - the left and right hands of the devil working in concert - has told us what we should have been noticing all along. That we are losing our ability to pay attention to...SQUIRREL! Sorry, I saw a squirrel for a second there.