REFLECTIONS: Commercial television is precisely that

I have a hunch I’m not alone in saying that commercial interruptions on broadcast and cable television networks are more painful than dangling from your thumbs over a quicksand pit.

I realize that advertising floats the boat, but too much advertising can sink the boat, too.

TV advertising loads -- how many ad breaks and for how long – for the most part have been increasing since the 1950s.

Remember when scratching blackboards either drove you insane or made your teeth ache?

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That wasn’t as bad as the horrible screeching sensation of having an hour-long TV show whittled to a mere 39 minutes because commercials were sardined into the other 21 minutes.

Actual programs were becoming so small they could fit into a Fiat 500.

The onslaught of commercials makes me shiver with revulsion, as if a snake had just crawled across my lap.

Indeed, the commercials were annexing more territory than even Putin.

When television sets first started sprouting their rabbit wings in 1952, only four minutes were devoted to commercials each half hour. If you are a math whiz, that’s 13 percent.

By 1963 the percentage of commercials had grown to 20 percent and kept growing like a robust weed until hitting 33 percent in 2012. It was down to 30 percent in 2014 and 2015 but bounced up to 31 percent in 2016.

Now perhaps the 31 percent in 2016 is fuzzy math or fake news because in the last year or so some media companies said they were cutting back on commercials because the din of viewer bellyaching was deafening.

Those viewers who weren’t screaming were watching shows ad-free on online streaming services and on premium channels.

Others discovered that their best friend in life was their DVR. There is nothing more exhilarating in life – outside of discussing politics with Kim Kardashian West -- than fast-forwarding through a glutton’s feast of commercials.

I would rather sit through a root canal without anesthesia than through frequent, lengthy commercial breaks.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t noticed much of a reduction in commercials.

Perhaps that’s because there were too many of them to notice a few deletions.

After all, the tonnage on a cruise ship doesn’t vary much if you toss a half-dozen lawn chairs overboard.

If I were a marketer, I would be fearful that my spots were being lost in all the ad clutter.

With a slew of commercials firing messages at you like a squadron of Star Wars TIE fighter pilots, the sensory overload can drain memory banks.

Granted, some TV commercials are clever and entertaining. But the gloss on a TV spot loses its luster when you have seen it 1,004 times.

Then again, there always is the bigger picture that perhaps too many of us waste too much of our lives consuming content on our televisions, desktops, laptops, tablets and phones instead of living our lives.

That just may be a bigger death-bed regret than lamenting that you watched television shows choking with commercials.