Friday, August 30, 2013

A Tangled Web

Imagine you have been talked into a "free" breakfast in some dreary banquet room at a seedy hotel on the outskirts of town. While the meal is in progress, you are told, there will be a sales presentation for an exciting new real estate development.

On the day, you struggle to eat a plate of undercooked scrambled eggs while a cadre of salesmen are screaming in your face and twisting your free arm behind your back. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to you, the event organizers are going through your wallet or purse and copying any personal information found therein. At this point you realize you've made a mistake by coming here, and that you just want to finish the meal, wipe any stray flecks of salesman spit from your face, and go home.

The above scenario describes pretty much how the World Wide Web feels to me these days.

Yes, there are certain web sites that I find useful or entertaining, and I do rely on the web for a certain amount of research. However,the "online experience", as we have come to know it, is one where we are expected to simply marvel at all that shiny stuff with dilated pupils in exchange for being force-fed advertising while also being tracked, monitored and catalogued for the benefit of a system proving itself unworthy of our trust.

Despite a few islands of sanity - places existing for the sincere purpose of educating and enlightening - the web mostly exists for the sake of selling. Although it may not always be high-pressure like the scenario described above, it is persistent and invasive in ways the user cannot immediately detect. Thankfully, many people are starting to realize that if you aren't paying for a product, then you are the product. Nothing is ever free.

Besides, there's only so many scrambled eggs you can eat before losing your appetite.