Writers spend a lot of time sitting down which, according to several recent studies, is not good for you. That's why the other day I went online to see where I could buy a laptop stand that I could put on top of my desk so that I can spend a bit of time every day writing standing up. That's when the trouble started.
It's the internet. It thinks I'm still in the market for a laptop stand, and it won't stop hectoring me to buy.
I was looking at an article on the Psychology Today site. Off to the right side of the page there appeared a looping slide show of laptop stands. Every two seconds or so the picture changed, making it hard to concentrate on what I was trying to read.
I moved the page to the right so that the slide show was off my screen...that's when I noticed there was a banner at the top also displaying laptop stands. The images were not moving but below each one was a "buy" button. Flashing on and off.
I felt like I was being hounded by digital Mad Men who wouldn't leave me alone until I bought at least one more laptop stand, maybe more.
I admit that the Kafkaesque quality may have been enhanced because I have insomnia and am writing this at 5am, after waking up at 3am...but even in less stressful circumstances having what you're trying to read surrounded by dancing ads is annoying.
I use Chrome as my main search engine and I've just installed Adblock Plus. It's free and it removes ads from most sites.
The parade of laptop stands has ended. Nothing is flashing at me to buy. Sweet relief!
I believe similar plug-ins are available for the other popular search engines. If you're being dogged by over-active ads, I recommend these highly.
I know it's a stop-gap measure. Targeting us based on our internet activity is big business. Also, private companies soon are going to be able to launch their own drones. It's clear that in a few years each of us will be followed everywhere by a personal drone that exhorts you to buy stuff based on the searches you've done and the web sites you've visited. This means quite a few people will have drones following them, shouting, "Buy porn! Buy porn!"
Gooface (Google and Facebook will have merged by then) will know who your favorite movie stars are, via on the tickets you order online, so the exhortations will sound like it's Leonardo di Caprio or Emma Watson telling you to download "The Housewife Hookers of New Jersey."
For the more reluctant buyers, drones made by Blackwater will be equipped with Taser-Lite technology that administers a mild shock (guaranteed not to be fatal, usually) until you buy the item in question.
I'd better get some sleep.
(image copyright Universal Studios)