As I get older and probably more crotchety, I’m finding that I have a very low tolerance for advertising in general on the Internet. In a way, isn’t it ironic, don’t you think, because I used to make my living by writing ad copy for an advertising agency and a group of radio stations. There’s where my uproariously fantastic knack for humor comes from, from writing ads that were suppose to make people giggle as they listened to the morning show on the local radio station and were allegedly titillated by people that were paid to make people laugh and feel slightly sexy by off-color jokes.
What the hell am I talking about?
Oh, the Internet ads. Now, I don’t believe that I need a tin foil hat because after all, tin foil hasn’t been around in a few decades or six, but I’m really not enjoying the tracking that is done on the Internet for the purposes of targeted advertising. I don’t mind tolerating commercials on the radio and I have been known to sit down once or twice a year for live television and I have tolerated those commercials because after all, that’s what we grew up with. Some shill gets paid to tell us why we should ask our doctor for a pill that gives us oily, gassy excitement in our nether regions (among other things that are probably more productive), but I really don’t like having some shill tell me, specifically me, what I should by based on what I mentioned in an email. For example, I off-handedly mentioned in an email that I was going to hang out with friends and there’d be beer and cigars at the event and now I’m being bombarded with ads for cigar companies. I have mentioned a cigar once via my keyboard but all of a sudden I’m getting all these ads. That’s definitely the product of someone tracking me somehow and I’m not liking it. Now that I think about it, it was an email composed on my Google Chromebook and I wasn’t even using an Google services when I composed that email, it was one of my private email accounts, which can only mean someone is monitoring my keystrokes or watching specific words typed into a form using Google Chrome. I have since wiped Google Chrome off my Mac and I’ve shutdown the Chromebook (it’s for sale if anyone with a higher tolerance for banality than I have is interested).
So I’ve decided to start weaning myself off of ad supported services. I’m already six steps ahead in that game because I use primarily Apple products, which cost a lot more but don’t bombard you with advertising. I’ve had the same Google account for many years (Gmail, Google+, Google Maps, etc) but I deleted that earlier this week and that felt amazingly cathartic. Since Gmail was forwarded to my primary email account, the amount of spam/non-desired mail coming in has decreased to about a 1/3 of what it was in less than three days.
The other thing that is really irking me about ads on the Internet is the click-bait articles, especially those aggregated by the news aggregator apps like Flipboard and Zite. A well known tech blog site had an article entitled, “Why Windows 10 leaps ahead of Mac OS X” and because I’m a die-hard Apple boy, I clicked the link. After getting through an ad that blanked out the entire screen until I found the minuscule ‘X’ in the corner and then the auto-start of a video that blared some really cheesy music that I hastily turned off, the article turned out to be no more than five sentences talking about some inane feature in Windows 10 about network password sharing or something. It was a complete waste of my time and it irked me, so I completely deleted Zite, wiped out Flipboard and pledged to start reading the newspapers that I subscribe to instead of scraping the bottom of the Internet for something to entertain me.
While I’m on a bit of rant, I’m also going to mention that an new app on my iPhone or iPad gets ONE opportunity to ask for a rating in the App Store. If they persist in asking for ratings, I will give them a bad rating and delete the app, finding an alternative that is a little less needy. Asking for a rating is a glorified ad to contribute to a glorified ad for their product and I don’t want to be part of the snowball that this whole thing is starting to resemble.
Another service that I deleted today is Pinterest. Honestly, I’ve never quite figured out what Pinterest is for; I stumbled upon it in an Internet search for clocks to add to my collection and all it was was a bunch of pictures taken from other sites and tagged as interesting. Since Pinterest has since bombarded me with emails that have escaped my spam filters, even after I have filled out forms asking for no more emails, I decided that I can just find the damn photos myself and I yelled “Good Riddance!” to Pinterest.
I understand that most of these services make their living off of advertising revenue, just as I did when I worked for the ad agency and radio stations, but as an old-school consumer of sorts, there are some lines that I have drawn in the sand and I’m not going to tolerate companies crossing those lines.
I’d rather pay for my supper than have someone tell me what to eat.