I once decided to drive to a casino nearby where I lived. I could not understand why I had this urge to go; and being that I was broke, it didn’t make much sense to me. I don’t gamble and I don’t usually enjoy crowds, but something was telling me that I should go, so I went. I ended up walking around for about an hour watching machines flash and ding, receiving a surely unhealthy dose of second hand smoke. I left a bit confused with myself as to why I would do this but I chalked it up as boredom. The next day, while I drove on a freeway I didn’t usually drive down, but one I had been taking to get to a class downtown, I noticed three large billboards on the side of the road. They were advertising the casino I had just been to the night before. I had to laugh at myself because I felt a victim to a marketing scheme I believed could not penetrate me. I concluded that my decision to go to the casino must have been from those billboards because I had just started using that roadway. Though it seemed a harmless adventure, I began to wonder about the effects of advertising or anything coming into the mind through the senses, namely the sense of sight.
Advertising must work to one degree or another, as it did with me. Companies would not spend money or invest time into marketing if it wasn’t effective. Much of the advertising that comes to mind is not pleasant and is usually an inconvenience. Commercials break through the rhythm of musical playlists or interrupt TV shows. However, advertising is ingrained in our culture and fuels it in many ways. To try and rid it from daily life would be a feat of grand proportions and a hopeless task. Instead, why not use it as a vessel for positivity and change? We know that it works; let it work for a higher purpose.
While billboards of positive affirmations or commercials reminding us to build character sound good, we live in a world based on money. If it doesn’t make money, usually it is replaced with something that does. Fortunately, we are born into a world that provides naturally. Here, I see a fork in the road. On one side, we can chose to create a world that is both aesthetically pleasing to the eye as well as functional. On the other side, I see a difficult task of preventing negative stimulus in the form of visuals. Therefore, I propose to discipline the eyes. As much as I enjoy imagining a world where everything is pleasing to look at, the optical dissonance that presents itself daily must be accepted. We can choose to look or not to look and it is this ability to choose that we must nurture and strengthen, not only for us but for those to come.
It would be unwise to turn a blind eye to the world, especially when it is difficult to look at. It is important to be aware of what is going on around us. However, we should understand how we are affected by what we see and how much of it we can take. We have a responsibility to prevent ugliness in the world, but also to keep ourselves from becoming the ugliness we point at. The world gets away with horrendous acts because we ourselves have done things we may not be proud of. When we look out we should also remember to look in and not let the world become our own projections.
Maybe someday, while I’m driving on a road, a billboard may remind me to call my mom and take more walks. Maybe a commercial might remind us to turn off the TV for a while and read a book or start a fire, to watch the sunset or sunrise.
Our world is full of pleasant sights to be seen, even right outside. Sometimes just to look up at the sky or to observe a plant is enough to remind the brain that beauty plays a role in our existence. People around the world travel far and wide to see nature’s wonders. The magnificence of our universe is apparent if we pay attention. Often, though, we choose not to see the miracle that surrounds us. To choose what we look at is not always easy. It is the prerogatives of many to get us to look where they want us to look. I believe it takes discipline and determination to focus on what is right. Though we see problems arise, will we look through to the solutions? How do we look with clear eyes at a world that would rather not be seen? Where do we look when all around we are polluted with negative schemes?
I say the world is full of terrible things as well as beauty. What will you see?