That’s a funny joke, based on the fact people without TVs like to gloat about it. I am one of those people. Just like 1% of the nation, I don’t have a television and haven’t had one for five years. I’m pretty smug. Once you arrange your sitting room furniture so that it’s not all pointing at a box in the corner, it feels creepy to even consider owning one. Once you acquire an air of superiority that comes with appearing to live a life more virtuous than anyone else, you don’t want to go to Dixon’s and buy a flatscreen.
But you do want to secretly watch a few shows on your laptop, obvs. I don’t mind admitting it, because I’m not a bloody saint spending my TV-free life volunteering or reading or climbing mountains. I do watch the odd bit of NetFlix (Hello, House of Cards) and Channel 4’s 8 Out of 10 Cats.
One of the biggest reasons I quit television was advertising. I hate it with a passion. The fact so many people sit there, voluntarily watching the adverts that break up their shows – it’s insane that we even accept this dross in our homes. Advertising is a sad fact of modern life, but once you get inside your little corner of the world, there should be a law against being advertised to. When I was on my gap yarr in Australia, I stayed with a family who muted the ads and had a chat instead. I thought, yes, that’s a good idea. Then I ate about 17,000 Solero ice-creams and got pretty fat. But that’s another story.
I came home, watched TV for a few more years, then sold the television. But I credit them with waking me up to the darkness of being advertised to.
Which is why ad-blockers on laptops are genius. You’ve got to love the clever people who create the things that make our lives better. I’ve had an ad-blocker on my laptop for as long as I can remember. So when I’m watching 8 Out of 10 Cats and it gets to the ad break, it just skips right back to the show. In your face, adverts, you can’t get to me.
I am not so ignorant as to misunderstand how television works, dear reader. I know those adverts are generating revenue which the channels then use to make the shows I am watching. Without the ads, the channels wouldn’t have billions of pounds at their disposal for quality content. Watching the ads is like entering into an agreement. The channel scratches your back by creating content you like. Now you have to scratch their back right back, by watching the mind numbing, stupid, patronising adverts. And hopefully then going out into the world and being a good little human and buying the brand you were advertised and not the other one.
But, when this popped up on my laptop screen:
I was dismayed. Here I was, beating the system, and now the system had cottoned on to me. I will soon no longer be able to watch 8 Out of 10 Cats without being forced to watch the ads. (Or, find something else to do every 12 minutes, for three minutes. We’re not tied to our seats with our eyes pinned open, lest we forget.)
In protest, I’d already decided that 8 Out of 10 Cats wasn’t that good, I was going to have to retire from watching 4od. Because even though I get that adverts fund the channel, I have to win this battle somehow.
But then I told my husband, who is one of those clever people who understands stuff, about my ad-blocker drama. “Don’t worry, the people who make ad-blockers are cleverer than the people who make adverts.”
Ha! A home run for the people benefitting from the weekly entertainment of Jimmy Carr without being of any darn use at all to the advertisers who fund the programme in the first place! Yay me. If I can get enough people on my team, no one will watch the ads, and then the show won’t get funded anymore, and then there won’t be any light entertainment on TV to interrupt with ads. Oh. I guess I’m not winning the long game here.
Still, my mind is free of jingles. Instead of humming ‘Mmm, Danone,’ or whatever jingles are big at the moment, I just rock myself to sleep at night mumbling ‘Welcome to 8 Out of 10 Cats, the show about surveys, opinion polls and statistics. Did you know for example…’ over and over again.