Is the Internet Becoming Too Annoying?

by James Wallace Harris, Wednesday, December 4, 2019

It seems like on every web page I visit I have to tell the site I don’t want to subscribe, that I don’t want notifications, and then I have to X out all the pop-up ads before I can read what I want. And my favorite app, Flipboard has become too annoying to enjoy anymore with all the floating ads I have to slide around.

Because I’ve been able to escape ads when watching television by using premium channels I wonder if advertisers haven’t decided to chase me down on the net. I understand that websites have to make money but their desperation in doing so is driving me crazy.

And internet providers are getting desperate too. I was talking to a friend yesterday about her escalating internet bill. She doesn’t have cable TV but her cable company wants to charge her more for internet service because she doesn’t bundle. They also want to charge her more because they are offering faster internet speeds even when she doesn’t want it. Evidently, if cable corporations can’t make ever-increasing money on television they’re going to make it off the internet.

We tried the internet streaming DirectTV Now on AT&T. It started out at $40 a month, which seemed like a decent deal. They’ve renamed it AT&T TV and is now $65. So we switched to YouTube TV which brings streaming TV back to $50, but I bet they will start raising their prices too. I would live without it altogether, but Susan has to have certain channels.

Of course, we do stream over a terabyte of TV a month in our household. Besides YouTube TV, we have Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access, HBO, Spotify, Tidal, and probably some others I’ve forgotten.

Between two televisions, two computers, and two smartphones we do consume a lot of interest data, and our bills are equal to a car note. There’s an old saying, “You get what you pay for.” It used to mean if you bought something cheap it would be cheap. But with the internet, if you buy a shitload of data you get a shitload of data. Do we really need hundreds of dollars worth of 1s and 0s every month?

Every evening when I sit down for a couple hours of TV I’m overwhelmed with choice. I’m so addicted to quality TV shows that I have to constantly study articles and query my friends to find the very best shows to watch. Often this abundance of quality TV makes me click on YouTube and mindless watch amateur retro-tech and audiophile videos. Sometimes I think I should just switch to a simple hobby like woodworking or stamp collecting and forget all about TV.

I used to read newspapers to get my daily news about the world. Now I use Flipboard, Facebook, News360, Feedly, Apple News+, phone apps and websites to review many dozens of news stories each day. I used to watch TV with three channels (and they only had a few watchable programs each week). Now I binge-watch like an addict from multiple TV subscriptions. And whatever screen I use advertisers are desperately trying to throw ads at me with an escalating war of technology.

I feel like a hamster on a wheel racing faster and faster.

And I’ve started to noticed something.

Some internet friends are disappearing from the internet.


14 thoughts on “Is the Internet Becoming Too Annoying?”

  1. Jim, I never encounter those issues, because I use a Firefox browser with the NoScript extension. That isn’t an ad-blocker, exactly. It just prevents scripts from running, by default. I use it for internet security. But it keeps the most annoying ads from working, too.

    I’m fine with advertising on the internet. After all, that’s what pays for these websites. This just blocks out the really annoying ones. (Typically, I don’t even notice the others.)

    Now, many websites don’t work well without scripts. But you can choose what to allow and what not to allow (although it can take some experimentation to see what does what).

    Or you can just choose to allow everything temporarily (and you can revoke that permission at any time, too). That makes it easy, since if that causes too much annoyance, I can experiment to see what I want to run and what I don’t. (In most cases, I just click to allow scripts temporarily at every site that needs them to work properly.)

    Of course, I don’t stream television, and I don’t subscribe to a million different feeds (or feeds at all, really). Over time, I’ve narrowed down what is valuable for me and what I can skip. But that means I don’t feel even slightly like “a hamster on a wheel.”

    Admittedly, I don’t know how hamsters feel. But you know, I suspect that they’re quite content with that wheel. 🙂

    1. I use Chrome and have an ad blocker for my computer browser. But I don’t have any defense on my phone. That’s where I mainly read the news and get all the ads, pop-ups, and other tricks to distract me.

  2. Damn. Every time I “swear to God” I will read your posts but not leave any more of my own thoughts, you write something and I hear that “still, small voice” whispering, “Go ahead, little man. Trust me. You have nothing to lose.”
    So James, like me, you remember when the internet was brand new! Remember how cool that was? For me, first it was all that porn (and not kidding). After all, a child of the ’50’s, sneaking peeks into “Playboy” and “Hustler” and reading those “dime novels” at the local “ma-and-pa store, what else should anyone have expected?
    And maybe that was my first hint at where and how “all of this”–all this access to, well, everything “they” put out there–was destined to end. I.E., it got really boring as hell quicker than teen sex in the back seat at a drive-in.
    You wrote this:
    “Sometimes I think I should just switch to a simple hobby like woodworking or stamp collecting and forget all about TV.”
    We dropped cable back in 2011. Ours has been a Netflix-only viewing ever since. And that, too, is finally getting…yes, boring.
    And you wrote this:
    “Some internet friends are disappearing from the internet.”
    I’m down to six names in my cell-phone…and three are of those are my wife and two daughters. Again, you and I were right there when all this new technology hit. And I still love telling the stories of how damned annoying it would be when the phone would ring while I was watching television. Back it up to when I was a kid, and I can still hear my old man yellin’, “Hey, boy. Answer that phone.” Unless Lisa and I go out on the weekend, I don’t even turn my phone on and it is on during the week only until she gets home from work. And I can count on one hand with fingers left over how often the “phone rings” during the week during those yes, two hours of “watching television” while we eat supper.
    And every year, I go back through those contacts and remove anyone/everyone who hasn’t contacted me within that year. I try, I really try, to keep alive those contacts. Everyone else, it seems, prefers “social media”.
    So all I have seen happen is that “cell phones” (now “smart phones,” whatever) and “social media” effectively spelled the end of true “human” contact. Everything has been reduced to having a place to go argue religion and politics and sure, watch a cute kitten video or two.
    So my “hobby” is to treat the internet like television: Channel surfing. I go from station to station (the “news” and videos) to reaffirm that all I have lived through and observed is not getting any better.
    In 2019, Nero would not have to fiddle while Rome burned. He could just watch it all from his phone.
    James, you have a Merry Christmas.
    (Hear how unbelievably inherently contradictory that sounds? At the same time I write about how cynical I have become, I turn around and wish everyone a “Merry Christmas”. That’s when I simply step back and say, “Let them figure it out.” But do stay safe and be well.)

    1. I dropped cable eleven years ago when my wife moved out of town for her job. She had cable in her apartment but did without when she came home for the weekend. I loved living without cable. Netflix was all I needed. I bought old westerns on DVDs to supplement it. However, last year Susan moved back home and wanted cable. I talked her into streaming TV which is like cable, but without the cable and box. I watch one channel, TCM. She watches maybe 5. We could do without the other 50+ channels.

      I also try to ignore the phone. The house phone goes to an answering machine. I like having a house phone when I have to give out a number. I don’t like giving out my cell. And I don’t answer unknown numbers on my cell phone.

      And Merry Christmas back at you Randy. Don’t worry about leaving comments. That’s what the comment section is for.

  3. James,

    I agree with you but want to take it a step further – the Internet is already annoying!

    Pop-up ads drive me nuts! I decided back in 2013 to start writing a blog and to never monetize the work. I have never made a cent and I am proud of it. Even back then I could tell what was going to happen to sites that allowed advertising.

    I intentionally want my readers to read what I wrote without having to navigate around ads that feature something that they did a search on a few days before.

    Those click-bait articles that force you to hit about 50 times to read small segments of the story are the absolute worst. Not only are they a huge waste of time, they will give you some interesting headline and then never deliver what they promised, although they will end up puking about 1,000 ads at you!

    There are so many examples of things that annoy me on the internet that I could take a long time to describe these items. If I were to do that, however, I’d be annoying myself.

    Thanks for sharing your keen insights, as always,


  4. Yes, no question the internet has become annoying these days – and adverts are a major part of the problem (don’t get me started on some of the toxic behaviours displayed on social media platforms…). For me the irritating part is that the advertisers know very well that their ‘hit rate’ is miniscule – I have seen figures of something like 1 in 10,000 who actually click on them, of which only 1 in 100 will actually buy something – but this apparently suffices to keep them going. I think part of the issue is that – as you say – there is so much content around these days that it just flows past people, as do the adverts. So the advertisers get more and more intrusive. Ouch. I remember the free-wheeling days of the early 1990s with a certain nostalgia.

    1. I remember the early days of the web when HTML was very plain. I sometimes wish it was still that way. Just simple text and images.

      I’ve always wondered about advertising. I just don’t see how it pays off. Evidently, it does. But I would think most people would be like me and try everything possible to ignore ads.

  5. Let’s also not forget the shift from one-time purchases for software to the subscription model… But, yes, the Internet is getting very annoying in a lot of places…

  6. “I used to read newspapers to get my daily news about the world. Now I use Flipboard, Facebook, News360, Feedly, Apple News+, phone apps and websites to review many dozens of news stories each day.”

    I suspect that is just algorithmically feeding you what you want to see (“pushing your buttons”). You’d be better reading a quality newspaper, and watching a couple of news programs on TV (what I do and what gives me a spread of political opinion). More importantly, it would also limit the amount of news you are exposed to.

    1. Actually, news aggregators like Flipboard, News360, Apple News show me news from several newspapers from around the world. I do subscribe to The New York Times too, and I watch the NBC Nightly News and PBS News Hour at times. Television news is very limited. I’m phasing out on NBC Nightly News because it’s so limited and brief. PBS News Hour is way more in-depth but tedious at times. News aggregators let me absorb as much information as I want. I seldom read stories to the end.

      What I’m learning is to be selective about what news categories I want to follow. A lot of television news is forgettable. Well, most news is forgettable because I forget it. But I do want to know how the world is changing and try to keep up. For instance, I don’t need to know all the details about the latest forest fire, but I do want to know that we have a lot more of them.

      1. “I don’t need to know all the details about the latest forest fire, but I do want to know that we have a lot more of them.”

        My point exactly–the feeds will give you more of the news you read and you’ll end up thinking the world is permanently on fire.

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