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I grew up watching this PSA in between episodes of Looney Tunes:

I was thinking about it today as I popped two Tylenol. While I sang that song and parodied it many times from age 9–12, I never asked my parents once about which drugs are good or which are bad.

However, I did buy an encyclopedia of prescription drugs at age 12 and read it at bedtime. It was fascinating how many names there were for the same thing and how often they had similar side effects.

I’m nostalgic about those days for two reasons. First, ads are a lot less memorable because there are so many more of them, much more targeted. There’s no more appointment television where you stayed through the commercial break because at ANY moment the show could come back on and you’d miss it, unless your VCR was recording.

The other is that a specialized encyclopedia was a such a unique resource. Except for a poison control hot line or a pharmacists, you couldn’t easily access information on drugs. Spending the night reading through this sliver of knowledge made the world outside feel big and exciting.

Watching this commercial makes me think about how we can instill a feeling of how big the world is to the next generation, because with information immediately accessible, it seems a bit smaller.

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