Constance/ February 22, 2019/ Essay

AKA, Woman Shakes Fist at Cloud

As I get older I notice I have less and less inclination to spend time on the Internet. I’ve reduced my time to using it as a research tool and research starting spot, a place to buy books and other things I can’t get in my hometown, and as a source of news I have to cross check to get an idea of the real story. I pop in on Facebook to keep up with friends, but seldom interact. I much prefer the friendlier confines of Ravelry.

I also use it to look up recipes, since physical cookbooks only have a few recipes I want. I hate spending big money on a special cookbook to find there’s really nothing I want to cook from it. Amazon’s Look Inside feature is no guarantee the recipes don’t require ‘Essence of Peacock’ oil, or a whole durian fruit in all its stinky glory.

One thing I’ve come to hate about recipe blogs and other sites are the continual pop-ups, moving ads, and self playing videos. Let me peruse the site before shoving a “Subscribe to my Newsletter” pop-up in my face 4 seconds after I land. Better yet, make the link prominent at the side or top. I’ll find it if I like what you offer. I stop self playing videos. News sites are the worst with this. The constantly twirling sidebar ads make me crazy. Popovers are the absolute worst, tricking you into clicking on them as you go to click on a website link, because they load late in order to screw you over.

Everything screams, LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!

I don’t look. I’ve trained myself to ignore the side bars and ads in the middle of a story. I mute my computer, stop the self playing ads, and close the popups. All without taking in what they are advertising. It can be done. I have no idea what was advertised on the sidebar of the NY Times today. It could have been something I’m actually interested in, courtesy of tracking cookies following me around the Internet. (They are insidious, even if you have blockers turned on.) But NO. I don’t care to see them.

“Think of the poor sites, they need the advertising money!” comes the whine. I sympathize with running a website. It’s expensive. But it doesn’t have to be so in your face. I will look at static ads that don’t bleed my eyeballs. I will listen to a plea from a site asking me to use their Amazon link to buy something. But no twirly, bossy, whining ads. Just say no. Your ads fail anyhow, since I ignore them. And I refuse to feel guilty. And I won’t click on them.

After so much of this intrusion, I’ve reduced the places I go for my information, ideas and shopping. I haven’t missed any one of them. I use the browsers that block the most pop-ups and auto-playing. When the websites come to their senses and stop the overly obnoxious, intrusive stuff, I’ll pay more attention. It’s like back in the 90’s, when everyone used blinking type on their personal (and some professional) websites. That went away fast as people said “No more”.

I choose the way I want to use the Internet, although advertising tries to choose for me. So I ignore. My small way of fighting back. Sure, it’s like spitting in the ocean, but a person has to start somewhere, and take a stand. Is this the hill I die on? Today, it sure feels like it.

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