As the father of a five-month-old, I can already see the power of television. Whenever the TV is on, my son cranes his head to look at the bright moving objects on the screen, no matter where we place him in the room.
We are naturally curious animals, and we get easily distracted. It's getting harder to exercise our freedom to avoid the continued "advertization" of our lives - whether via TV ads or digital billboards beside busy freeways.
I cut my civic advocacy teeth at City Hall more than a decade ago by questioning the design proposed for garbage bins. Street furniture may not be the sexiest issue, but at its core lies one of the most important pillars of our society: freedom of expression.
At the time, council wanted to ban posters on lampposts while at the same time allowing advertising on garbage bins. (Remember those thin steel waste bins that seemed to get dented by the wind?) This was really saying that local advertising - dog walkers, local plays, political protests - in the form of posters was visual clutter, but ads for real estate agents, energy drinks and fast food were perfectly fine.
Luckily, the poster restrictions never happened and advertising on street furniture is restricted to transit shelters and a few info pillars.
But I'm still very concerned about the advertization of our public spaces.
Drive along the Gardiner Expressway and massive billboards - some of them playing loops of filmed adverts - scream at you.
Council is considering allowing these to appear at intersections all over town. And the TTC seems willing to sell almost any free space on the walls, turnstiles or floors of subway stations.
When you pick up a magazine or turn on a TV, there's a tacit understanding that you'll have to put up with some form of advertising. But you have a choice to flip the page or channel.
When you're in a public place, it's very difficult to not look at ads. Our local government and transit authority have decided that for you.
Taking the fight to City Hall about ad encroachment into the public realm is not an easy task, but victories over this onslaught of advertising can be won. (See scenic.to for more.)
Matthew Blackett is publisher and creative director of Spacing Media.