Have you ever wondered why there're so many ads on the London Tube, or any public space for that matter?
Wouldn’t you rather look at Van Gogh’s Starry Night, The Birth of Venus, or American Gothic for that matter, instead of home insurance spam?
And if that's not possible then isn’t it time we adopted the internet payment model and travel for free? 
Tragedy of the commons
Unfortunately billboard ads are here to stay. The space they begrime is so “common” that nobody bothers—or knows how—to defend.
Besides, staring at ads never killed anyone, right? Wrong. Those colourful zombies vie for our attention and hence our life energy.
But while adverts are debilitating we shouldn’t be angry at them. Angry people consume more. We cannot point fingers; it’s a collective problem and ill will won’t fix it.
I believe the first step is to own our attention and understand that we are in charge. Those ads violate us because we let them to. We want them to penetrate and fill our emptiness. We want to be violated because our sense of self worth and capacity to be at peace was never allowed to flourish.
We’ve been trained to believe that we are not whole; that we need something (consumption) or someone (sex) to be complete. So our goals are externally focused and we are always craving.
The implications for us and the environment couldn't be more profound. How long can we keep craving? How long can our planet sustain that?
The underground billboard ads are the epitome of all this. They are intrusive, violating and bad for us. But if we cannot be angry then what can we do?
My yoga instructor once posed a question during class: “Does a sailor get mad at the sea when the waves become high and the going gets tough? No, all he does is negotiate with it, avoid it, find another route.”
In Greek mythology, the Sirens […] were dangerous yet beautiful creatures, portrayed as femmes fatales who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. ~Wikipedia
Lately I’ve consciously tried to avoid the ads during my commute—it’s not easy, they’re everywhere. I keep eyes downcast when I walk down the Tube tunnels. And when aboard the train I try to remember to shut my eyes and move my attention inwards.
It doesn’t always work, of course. After a long day at work decision fatigue has rendered me incapable of noticing and avoiding them. Exhaustion has left me unable to fend for my attention. Isn’t this why ads are so rampant in the underground; the place where 4 million workers get to and from work on a daily basis?
Safeguarding our attention means we can afford to focus on areas and people that truly matter.
What will you choose to focus on today?
: According to the TfL, 91% of operational expenditures are covered by fares, so good luck with that. Incidentally, I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t mind a 9% fare increase (on my extortionately expensive ticket) to replace those ads with something else.