Ogden Nash says, “I think I shall never see a billboard as lovely as a tree. Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.”
This, my dear friends, is the life of the 21st century where billboards have replaced trees and have become a significant part of the society. It’s as if they give oxygen and so more of them should be placed. It’s no longer “plant more trees”, it’s “plant more billboards!”
And I must tell you, billboards are an inevitable eyesore.
It’s these billboards, so huge and tall, they cover a large patch of the sky. It’s these billboards that are so broad and wide, they disable the wind to flow freely. Like all other things, billboards come with disadvantages as well and today it is my duty to tell you of each disadvantage.
First off, I’ll start with general disadvantages. A billboard is a large outdoor board for displaying advertisements and is typically found in high traffic areas. Billboards present large advertisements to passing drivers and pedestrians. Billboards are all colourful and eye catching, tell me what will happen when they do catch a driver’s eye. Tell me what will happen when a pedestrian crossing a road stares at a billboard instead of looking where he’s walking?
There’ll be an accident of course! Bones will be broken, limbs will be lost, pain will be felt, blood will be shed and all because you were busy looking at this nice iridescent billboard that announced a new clothing line being launched or showed how many pizzas you can buy in this new deal that’s for less than 2500 rupees.
Think about it. Are advisements worth our injuries? Nope, I’d like to keep my limbs, thank you very much.
Similarly, what’s a billboard if it isn’t big and tall? The bigger the billboard, the more it’s visible and the more it’s noticed. Well my dear friends we live in Karachi, a coastal city that gets high winds from the sea. Chances of floods and sea storms are higher for us and when there will be winds, these billboards will come crashing down and whatever poor soul would be there underneath it, will be lost forever.
Tell me, is losing an innocent life may it be a friend or a foe worth an advertisement? No, I don’t think so.
Moving on towards the advertisements these billboards display, I think it is suffice to say that these advertisements create an artificial need in each of us. Even though we have all that we need, these advertisements that are so well displayed and the slogans that are so convincing, provoke us to buy what we see. This way, many people waste money on things they don’t even need.
You could’ve used the money for the well-being of a homeless person, but alas, it is lost now because you spent it in buying a stitched shirt you didn’t even need.
Next comes the one common thing we all see in each billboard. A female. And my dear fellows, it isn’t just any female, it’s a beautiful woman wearing lots of make-up, dressed in the finest of fabrics with her hair styled in the most elegant hairstyle. Every girl is born beautiful but when each day I see a woman on a billboard, I feel left out. I feel as if I’m not beautiful, I think that unless I look just like that woman, I cannot be part of society. And when I start tending to my body, I forget my soul, I forget my real purpose of life.
Seeing this in the Islamic point of view, the billboards we have today are all unjustifiable. Each billboard has a man or a woman on it. Not only are the manufacturers sinning but the ones who cast a glance at these billboards, they are sinning too. It’s like passive smoking. I’m not the one who’s smoking but I’m inhaling my neighbour’s smoke nonetheless. In Islam, purdah is necessary upon every women and it is necessary for the men to keep their gazes low. My dear friends, when we have such big billboards with such big men and women on it, are we all not sinning?
So in the end, I would say that it’s about time we realize that these billboards have evolved from advertisements to accidents and sins. I’m not saying that billboards should be banned, I’m saying that the ones that are big and the ones that are against our Islam, should be brought down and put an end to. There should be an agency or an organization that determines each billboard before it is put up. The billboards should be of a size suitable to the winds, should be limited to a number in each community and should be by all means, according to the Islamic teachings.
I hope I have convinced you that the billboards we have today are an eyesore indeed. With the advancements in technology, billboards are being printed out in bulk quantity. If we speak against it, we will surely be heard and then the billboards that are not in our favour, will be put down immediately. There will be peace in the society when the sins will be cut out and we’ll be able to live a much happier life without all the accidents.