When the World Wide Web came into being in 1993, anyone with even an iota of common sense would have known that it is going to be the next big thing. Who wouldn’t love each and every bit of information delivered right to their computer screen. As the reach of the internet started expanding and as the bigwigs realized its true potential for advertising, started the over commercialization of each and every category of content. Is that a good thing? Maybe, or maybe not. Let’s explore.
I created my first email account back in 2006. At that time, the internet wasn’t really big in India, and considering that I lived in a rural area, none of my friends knew about it. At that time, I only used to login once in every few months, and still I wasn’t bombarded with spam advertising emails. Fast forward to 2017, out of every 10 emails I get, on average 7 are about marketing and promotion of some brand or the other.
Another example I’d like to point out is the pattern of social media. Today, every fourth post I scroll on Instagram is an ad for a product which I distinctly remember searching for once few months ago. It didn’t use to be that way. Back from 2008-2010, I had an account on Orkut. It was a fun place to be, the people were real, the chats were real and the community was real. My computer screen didn’t use to flash 10 ads every time I logged on.
Scarily, this phenomenon is not only restricted to monetary commercialization. Across various social media platforms, various skills (for lack of a better term) are commercialized. For example, being good looking is extremely rewarded on Instagram. It doesn’t even matter if the photo is heavily edited to skew the real image, once they get in the required number of likes, comments and follows, it is about time to cash in and rope in all the big brands to pay you money to promote their products. I followed you because I like you as a person, and now all you do is promote products which I don’t even know about, and I’m the jerk for unfollowing you?
On Twitter, this phenomenon can be seen in form of accounts that are always keen on posting tongue-in-cheek political or social satire. A lot of times the content is original (which is awesome) but most of the times it is copied from someone else, and an aggregator of memes almost too quickly lands a deal with comedy clubs and YouTube channels to promote them. In short, any action on social media these days seems to have an ulterior motive.
Gone are the days when I could search for anything on Google without it being all up in my business. Today, if you are logged in and search for something, you are bound to receive 10-12 emails about the product you searched for and in extreme cases, even SMSes and calls regarding it. As soon as I opened my demat account, I was bombarded with phone calls from so called “brokers” which weren’t even related to the bank I signed up with. Take the CAT exam once and you are sure to receive countless SMS “promising” guaranteed seats in top colleges. While this has got more to do with selling of user data and less with an intelligent algorithm, these developments sure are scary.
A few months ago, I searched about the rules to play Rummy, ever since that day, I get the following message every 3 or 4 days.
In conclusion, I must say I really agree with the fact that the internet has been overly commercialized. Is there a way back? I don’t think so. Even if there is, I can’t see it. We live in a world where ads control our lives. Frankly, now I don’t even care how many messages or junk mail I get. That being said, anyone up for a game of Rummy? Do contact me.