I got a thick ear off my dad

I did. Really. Yes, it was a long time ago– he’s been gone from the physical world for nigh on 40 years – and it wasn’t really that big a deal. And I had earned it. Probably. I was a reasonably well behaved kid but I did have a few moments. What I was getting round to was that every so often, something happens that stirs a slumbering memory, which is what happened for me, in full technicolour.

I was browsing the Internet – something that Dad missed out on. I think I was researching something online, though I don’t actually recall what it was or even whether I found it. I had gone down that ever-inviting rabbit hole of random sites on the Internet and reading a few interesting articles in online magazines.

It was at that point I became acutely aware of my dad’s rebuff from long ago. You see, Dad wasn’t overly strict or particular about the behaviour of me and my brother, but there were some lines that normal kids simply weren’t expected to even think about crossing. One such uncrossable line was interrupting grownups’ conversations. It was regarded as reprehensible enough simply to barge in verbally – especially without an “excuse me please” – but to jump up and down, flapping ones arms at the grownups and demanding attention: “lookit this, lookit this, I can……” – I’m sure you get the picture – was a sure fire way of getting a clip round the ear and getting told not to be so rude.

So what stirred this memory enough that it opened its eyes and regarded me across the mist of time? An advert. Just an advert, move along, nothing to see here.

Oh but there was plenty to see. Thrusting itself into one’s vision, the advert was designed for maximum eye catching effect. It was flashing a background alternating between red and yellow, which a graphic bouncing up and down. I am sure if I had my sound turned on it would have been yelling “Lookit me, lookit me, I can…….”, desperate to attract attention.

Suddenly I had the memory in my head of Dad’s whack and his admonishment to wait patiently, ask politely if I could interrupt please and just not to be so perishing rude.

That set me thinking about the parallels – or rather the lack of them – between “Real Life ™” and what happens on the Internet.

Advertisers have a medium that can carry animated adverts, adverts with sound, just like some snotty brat waving his arms in the air, trying to interrupt the grown ups yelling “Lookit me! Lookit me!”  They’ve crossed that line and gone beyond irritating and straight into perishing rude. Dad would have not approved. I can’t offer the advertisers a thick ear but I can sure consign them to stand out of sight on the naughty step if I use an ad blocker.

It’s really strange that things happen on the Internet and seem to be accepted, whilst the “Real Life™” equivalent would be an anathema to so many.

So I’m sorry advertisers but I’ll keep my ad blocker running and keep that snotty little brat at bay until his dad manages to get him to behave.

Well, that leads me nicely on to the Real Life™ issues of junk mail and phone marketing.

Once or twice someone has forgotten to put a stamp on a letter to me. No huge deal: I pay the Post Office an arm and a leg and get the letter. Either that or I just ring my chum and tell him he is an idiot. I have even once been asked to accept a reverse charge (collect) call. Not a huge problem either: I get to tell my chum he is an idiot straight away. This all happens in the Real World™.

What doesn’t seem to happen in the Real World™ is that I pay for that un-stamped mail or the reverse charge phone call, only to discover it is someone’s marketing. In stark contrast, online I seem expected to use some of my data allowance or paid-for mobile data to have people push their Internet marketing at me.

So I sigh and make sure my ad block filtering is up to date. I’m not going to have that snotty brat being rude at me and I am certainly not about to pay for the privilege. His dad should really sort him out.  And before anyone suggests that adblock is theft, may I suggest the real issue is the other way round.

My dad would have had something to say, I am sure. He might have been looking for someone to whom he could give a thick ear. Me, I’ll just content myself with a rant.

By John Kirkwood
Categorized as blog

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