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Waiting for the Ball to Drop

             The twenty-first century began for many Americans as they watched the ball drop in Times Square on television. While this is not unique, the background of advertisements behind the falling ball certainly were, including the graphic way in which they were displayed. Forty years ago, advertisers had limited options- either one-dimensional picture advertising in magazines, the equally single dimension of radio airwaves, or the burgeoning television industry, which was just beginning to use Technicolor. Now, analog frequency on television is expected to be replaced completely by the more efficient digital bandwidth in another three years, and the Internet has become an easily accessible source of information and entertainment for young and old. Advertisers were quick to realize the audience potential of both of these forms, resulting in our society being inundated with ads, often without consciously realizing it. Add to this the breakdown of our Puritan ideals, and the United States has become fertile ground for marketing products with abandon. This has resulted in conflicts between advertisers and consumers, as the struggle to find common ground is carried out in front of the public's general eye.
             Often the greatest argument for advertising without boundaries lies in our Constitution. The First Amendment, or freedom of speech act, gives free reign to advertisers, unless it violates the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations. From an ethical standpoint, this also falls under rights, specifically the right to freedom of choice and personal autonomy. "An autonomous individual is one who can make rational and unrestrained decisions An agent is autonomous when they can freely choose from the range of possibilities presented to them." .
             (BG 4). As the recent conflict unfolds in Afghanistan, our society has been confronted daily with images of silent women in burkhas, homemade and hidden satellite dishes, and clandestine schooling.

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