Letters to Ukraine – 12
What do our commercials say about us? Imagine yourself an explorer from another galaxy, stumbling across Earth. For technical reasons, you can stay for several minutes only. You’re beamed down, by freak coincidence, in front of a TV during a commercial break, with no one about. Naturally, you assume this prominently located box must be an important information dispenser. You watch, assessing humankind’s primary concerns. [Do that, today, with the first commercial break you’re exposed to. Here are my own results: hairspray, computer equipment, cars, car sales, insurance, sweetly fizzy caffeinated drinks, comparative insurance, financial services, broadband, rail travel (first class).] Decades later, you return across space on a full-scale diplomatic mission. Earth is now practically dry of petroleum and drinkable water; nations are riddled with conflict, famine, disease. Many of its inhabitants are hairless from pollution and radiation exposure. But you’ve brought an offering, based on the research of your previous visit. No cancer cure, high-tech water purifier, or strain of wheat resistant to drought and toxins; no irresistibly peaceful, egalitarian philosophy. Instead, you insist on meeting the first-class humans, to whom you present a package of interplanetary insurance, intergalactic shares in electronics, and a cornucopia of petrol-driven cars, fizzy drinks and hairspray.