Years and years ago, I helped the Weekly World News make a book.
While their periodical was weekly, it certainly wasn’t news. They were just four people in a small office in Florida. They gleefully made stuff up every week. They had a few filing cabinets of stock photos, and they invented stories featuring UFOs, aliens, “scientists” (in quotation marks) and various other diversions for folks trapped in the checkout supermarket line.
And now, of course, we are all trapped in that line. And now, the algorithms are pushing spineless profit-seekers to bombard us with junk, junk that shows up on the home page of search engines, in our social media feeds and in our email.
Adblockers are one of the most popular innovations of the last few years. What I want is a junkblocker. A big button on my browser that says “shields up.” And just imagine if it was set to on by default.
No celebrity gossip. No conspiracy theories. No weight loss breakthroughs. It would automatically block fist fights, trolling, urgent but unimportant breaking news, insights about the royal family, discussions of whatever happened to a star from thirty years ago, aliens, UFOs, MLMs, the latest pump-and-dump schemes, things that are true but irrelevant, things that are relevant but didn’t actually happen and stories designed to demean, degrade or intentionally inflict distress with little recourse available.
When you put it that way, who doesn’t want a button like that?
Somehow, we survived as a culture for centuries without exposing ourselves to thousands of profit-driven manipulations dumped on our living room carpet all day, every day.
No wonder we’re exhausted after a day online.