In case you haven't heard, there's a marvelously civilized—even polite—way to boil a frog to death.

Don't start with a rolling boil, either. After all, we are not savages. As fellow democrats (lower-case d) and marketers, we want the frog to cooperate. Putting it in Amway terms: We want to share an opportunity with the frog.

You place the happy little frog into a pot of slightly warm water. Then, degree by degree, you gradually turn up the heat. The frog won't ever turn frantic or try to clamber out. He'll be seemingly content right up to the moment of his death.

For the purposes of this article, the pot of water is the “mediasphere” or (what others have called) the “mental commons:” The public spaces, radio and television airwaves, phone lines, Web, magazines. These are the venues that immerse us in ever-more-harsh marketing messages from cradle to grave.

And we are the frogs. By and large, we are happy little frogs.

Though, come to think of it, things do seem a little bit warmer. Or is it just me?

Can You Speak Up? I'm Trying to Ignore You.

Yes—now that I mention it—it is irritating when the telemarketers descend upon you at dinner time on weeknights or breakfast on weekends. True, when you pick up the phone and get “dead air,” it's a bit, well, galling.

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Chris Maher is president of Fosforus, an Austin-based, business-to-business marketing, media, and interactive design firm. Reach him at