According to CBS News, in 1983 companies spent $100 million marketing to kids. Today that figure is closer to $17 billion. I find the fact that we can find this situation acceptable deeply disturbing. Somehow we comfortably make the leap from the fact that spending billions on marketing to children is highly profitable to assuming that doing so is moral.
I’ve described how today we face a “crisis of purpose” in culture. Rethinking what we mean by profit is key to addressing it. And key to this kind of fundamental rethinking is learning to more deeply value aspects of life that don’t readily translate into the language of money. What better qualifies than the lives of our children. In this context, treating children as simply a market to be exploited becomes an ultimate kind of immorality.
Creative Systems Theory calls this sort of blindness Transitional Absurdity. In our time, while we speak of children as special to us, at once we violate them through our collective actions. It is a contradictory sort of behavior we see today with regard to all aspects of experience that we connect with through the more germinal aspects of intelligence—-for example, along with childhood, nature, the artistic, and our bodies. In a previous post, I described how, because of the aspects of our psyches that advertising draws on, in out time, by itself, it has become a Transitional Absurdity. Add massive spending on advertising directed at children and we get a particularly insidious result — with one Transitional Absurdity compounding another.
Creative Systems Theory predicts that we would encounter Transitional Absurdities in our time. It also makes clear that it is essential that we move beyond them and engage our worlds with new and greater integrity and wisdom.