“Daddy will tell you one more story, Dear, but first, three strangers will spend thirty seconds each speaking glowingly about some stuff they’re hoping you'll beg me for.”
Today’s post is about storytelling, and how much it’s morphed from the way it began.
Anyone can sing to their child. Any parent can tell their toddler a story—some incident from your childhood, or theirs, or something silly you just make up on the spot. You don’t need a karaoke machine or a book or any prop at all.
But now let’s say you also have some friends who enjoy singing songs and telling stories to your kids. Like your guitar-playing pal from Philly.
You might wish to thank your friend for entertaining you and your kids—to return their gift in some way. Maybe you’d offer them some milk and homemade cookies. Or a few bucks for some new guitar strings. That seems reasonable to me.
But you know what would be weird? To have some third party pay the people who entertain your children, in exchange for which the storytellers would allow their songs or stories to be interrupted periodically with sales pitches.
As adults we accept the advertiser-sponsored content model, in part because we understand what’s going on. (Though I have my doubts about that too.) But to children, stories are stories and songs are songs and cute characters are there to be watched and listened to. Unquestioningly.
Frankly, I think a fair amount of my objections to advertising aimed at children rests on aesthetic grounds (i.e., the commercials are tasteless, transparent, ugly and dumb.) But I have turned down more than one offer to run “unobtrusive, tasteful” ads at Readeez.com because I believe I have a one-to-one relationship with my audience. No third parties involved. And that’s really, really important to me.
I refuse to trade on that relationship, to sully it (in my view) with someone else’s agenda.
So, now and henceforth, Readeez are brought to you by me.