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Resident raises concerns after sharing photo of dangerous feature being added to rental cars: 'Innovation doesn't have to be good'

"I am quite certain that's not legal."

"I am quite certain that’s not legal."

Photo Credit: iStock

A Reddit post featuring a car with screens instead of windows made users angry and uneasy — one person even called it "dystopian."

The photo, taken in Germany, showed a rental car like any other — except that instead of back windows, this one had brightly lit screens featuring advertisements. 

Users were horrified. "Capitalism breeds innovation," one person wrote, to which another replied, "Innovation doesn't have to be good."

"I am quite certain that's not legal."
Photo Credit: Reddit

Advertisements — especially digital ones — have found their way into more and more corners of daily life. From advertisements and screens replacing public bathroom mirrors to enormous digital billboards being towed on boats past beachgoers, it often seems ads are simply inescapable. And it's true — the average person sees around 10,000 advertisements per day.

"Public advertising is a cancer," one Redditor said grimly.

That's not far-fetched. Public advertising is a major contributor to purchase-driven behaviors, such as overconsumption. In turn, overconsumption contributes to waste and severe pollution, which damages cities and natural ecosystems alike. 

Many advertisements are geared directly toward children and promote unhealthy choices, such as hyper-processed foods.

And when it comes to advertisements on the road, their presence is downright dangerous — for drivers and pedestrians alike. "I am quite certain that's not legal where I live due to being a major distraction in traffic," one person commented on Reddit. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32,657 people died in distraction-affected crashes in the United States from 2012 to 2021. Many of these crashes involved a driver distracted by a billboard or cellphone.

Studies have also shown that advertising makes us unhappy. "Exposing people to a lot of advertising raises their aspirations — and makes them feel that their own lives, achievements, belongings, and experiences are inadequate," researcher Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick said.

For all these reasons, organizations such as Adfree Cities are working hard to decrease the number of public ads in cities around the world. Even small wins — like one ad-free subway car — are a breath of fresh air in an ad-plastered world.

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