Why (Not Only) Goths Should Block Ads
Independent scenes – like ours – usually has certain set of values it carries with it, along with some musical and fashion related ones.
Goths, dark electronic or industrial fans are certainly against mainstream. We are in the scene because we cannot stomach the pulp they force-feed us in the mainstream.
We are contesting mainstream ways and mainstream aesthetics, we condemn greed and shalowness of it all.
Read some lyrics of your favourite band, you’ll know what I mean.
They don’t sing that Facebook and Google are your best friends. They don’t sing that you should sheepishly consent to everything that corporations who own your private life want you to consent to.
They do not sing that you should give your money and sell your soul to some firm with servers conveniently located in China or some similar freedom-loving country.
We hear the lyrics, but this is it.
We say we dislike the world as it is, but do we act? Do we just pretend to value freedom and independence – both artistic and personal?
The fans pay a hefty fee when they buy music to support our artists. Well they end up supporting the corporate scene too, apart from the independent one.
We sing about corporations being evil, yet we are extremely comfortable letting them into our lives.
Something is clearly wrong, as what we say and what we do does not match.
Is this being against mainstream and corpos just an empty declaration without actual actions to follow? Is this just a cool thing to sing about, but uncool thing to do something about?
Are we not being a bit dishonest or at least a bit lazy?
Have we earned the right to call ourselves independent or underground?
In this post I am trying to explain to you how important ad blocking is. Because it is not just something you do for your own convenience.
Ad blocking is something that invalidates a whole business model based on invading your privacy and dispossessing you of your social life. Ad blocking makes all the information the corpos gathered about you almost completely useless.
They can watch, but they cannot talk.
If widespread enough, ad blocking can create a space where change to a more common sense model can occur. It can force the change by making current model unsustainable.
Ad blocking is good for privacy, for independence, freedom, scene and our world. Not doing it is almost criminal. It is like pouring your spent motor oil into the nearby lake.
It is bad only for those who took our privacy and made it into a commodity that is bought and sold without any real consent from us.
Do you remember clicking “I agree” on corporations owning your social life? Did you click “I agree” to not being able to communicate with family and friends without your every word being recorded and used?
No? Me neither.
Why internet ads are such a bad thing
Ads have always been around you may say. True.
But did the advertisers from 20 years ago know you suffer from depression?
Did they know what you are afraid of? Did they know what partners you choose? Where you live? What are your biggest secrets? What age you are, what is your education, what you do for living?
Did they know phone number of every person you have on your phone’s contact list? Did they know the names of your parents, the names of your children? Did they know where these people are right now?
Did they know every word of every conversation you had with those you love?
Did they know exactly where you were, 24 hours, 7 days a week, almost since you were born?
All this knowledge gives them great power. A power you never meant to give them.
They say it is a fair deal, because you clicked this “I agree” button. This button serves only to give you an illusion of choice or control.
Did you have a real choice? Could you click “disagree” and leave?
I checked this for you and lived for 5 years without Facebook account. I lost almost all of my social connections. Quick answer: no, you have no real choice.
These days clicking “disagree” on Facebook and other social media means loneliness and being excluded from social life.
I know – you probably don’t do anything illegal, but does it mean you need no privacy?
Because your privacy – in it’s current model – is guaranteed only by the word of the companies that gather your data. To makes it worse, these companies sometimes have no clue themselves what they do with your data, where it is stored etc.
Yet, this is all you have: a word of a company that listens to your every word all the time. The Big Brother did not need Thought Police, you yourself surrendered your privacy without second thoughts.
You may say we have privacy laws. True, but data harvesting companies have enough money to treat the law just as a nuisance, a minor inconvenience.
They certainly have enough money not to fear you or me.
They promised they won’t tell anyone and in exchange you agreed to them doing with your privacy whatever they like.
So they won’t tell anyone, apart from governments (NSA, anyone?) and highest bidders of course. And a few employees who happen to need your data to do some stuff, like Google guys did with Gmail emails of unsuspecting users.
Well sometimes they get caught, but ask yourself: how many times they got and will get away with things? More often than not.
We will see just the tips of these icebergs of abuse.
The reality is, that if the data is there, there will be people – authorised or not – who will access it for whatever reason.
Trusting the corpos with your privacy is naive beyond belief.
You have no realistic means to question or challenge them if you suspect their wrongdoing. They know it perfectly well when you enter bogus “contracts” with them by clicking “I agree”.
Breaking of this laughable “contract” with you has no consequences for them. When a crisis strikes and their spreadsheets start showing red, they will sell you without second thoughts. Or they will sell you just because the offer is good enough.
A recent example – the sale of Twitter. Did you hear about users being asked if they like being sold to Elon Musk? They got sold like cattle and now the man can do with their data whatever he likes.
Twitter without users has no value. It is the users that were sold, not the website.
Ads are so bad, because they provide money and reason to exist for this whole business based on invading your privacy. They fuel the world where your privacy is bought and sold with you having no say.
This is what makes ads so bad. Well, we can easily make them way worse, here we go:
Now let us give our corporate custodian of our secrets an access to super cheap and unlimited brain power – AI.
AI is the game changer here. This is the bit the likes of Cambridge Analytica did not have a few years back.
Well now they do, the AI is here.
An AI, unleashed on your life’s history will turn you into a puppet. I know, I know, you are too smart for it. I thought so myself too. Then I caught myself repeating some really nasty propaganda bits.
Nobody is immune, take it as a fact – even if it hurts your ego a bit.
You can be manipulated. Te AI will not only find the best way to make you buy, do and think things.
It will also find out how to get the best deal out of you – and avoid costly mistakes, like selling you a health insurance if you are not so healthy.
Remember – they know your health issues better than your doctor. Your doctor does not know if you bought and take the medicine she prescribed you – but “they” do know this and more.
An AI that can rummage freely through your life will make sure you’ll always get the worst deal you are willing to accept.
Letting the advertisers know you inside out is a recipe for disaster. There is no happy end scenario, you will get screwed over, this way or another.
It will cost you money. It is also possible that it will cost you your life.
I personally cannot imagine how corporations having my data coupled with AI could benefit me. And I can easily imagine how badly it can hurt me.
Kick in the balls of the surveillance business
So they have all this sophisticated system of surveillance. They know your position, thoughts, what you buy, what you think, what is the name of the doctor you are visiting and run an AI on this data to figure out how to manipulate you for profit.
But guess what – if you see no ads, you cannot be made buy, do or think things.
They may be the all-seeing eye they are, this totalitarians’ wet dream – but if you block ads they become an eye without a mouth.
They cannot whisper their poison into your ear, like Wormtongue did to king Theoden in the LOTR.
This is by the way why they want you so badly to use their apps – because you cannot block ads there. An app puts them back in full control. An app gives them back their two ways communication – ability to watch you and ability to talk to you.
By blocking ads wherever you can you not only take away a part of their ad revenue. You also make them unable to influence you.
Do you see any disadvantages of ad blocking so far?
Ads not only manipulate, they track too…
Those ads companies do gather private data too. So it should not be a surprise that ads also serve as means of finding out what websites you are visiting.
This information would be worth nothing if those who gather your data could not reliably identify you later on.
So they fingerprint your browser and use many other techniques to make sure they know who you are every time their ad is displayed to you.
Ability to identify also makes your private data more valuable when it is sold.
Ads in fact serve a dual purpose: to influence you, and to gather information about you.
Ads are two bad things in one.
Disable your adblock or we won’t show you our website
This adblock-beggar crowd deserves a separate bit, and a separate kick up the arse.
They are one of the worst, as they try to force you into accepting the rotten deal they offer you.
Sometimes they try to manipulate you by making you feel guilty. They give you a story how they depend on ads revenue to run their whatever noble cause thing is and so on.
No noble cause should be built on dishonest practices, this will never work. Don’t buy this.
My advice: go somewhere else. Nobody has content so precious and unique that it is worth letting in the avalanche of shit, manipulation and privacy abuse the internet ads are.
Remember: it is not on you to protect their legacy methods of funding themselves by accepting intrusion into your privacy.
It is on them to change their way of making themselves profitable. Personally I prefer them to go out of business as I don’t think scumbags doing adblock begging should be around anyway.
If they try adblock-begging, they deserve nothing but contempt.
They are not worthy your interaction with them. They sold their soul and now are trying to sell yours.
To hell with them, go somewhere else and let them rot in their surveillance powered little hellhole.
There are and will be leaks
So far we were focussing on the wrongdoing by the corporations. But from time to time your data will leak due to negligence or criminal activity too. Sooner or later your data will be stolen.
Darknet is already full of offers to sell large datasets.
If no data is perfectly safe, so maybe it makes sense to minimize the amount of it that is in corporate possession?
Blocking ads supports that goal too.
What if all the above is just a pile of BS written by some crazy guy wearing a tinfoil hat?
It would make sense to see what you can loose by blocking ads. So can you loose something if you block?
Not really. You see good deals are usually an illusion anyway, like these extra deals you get on Black Friday. These deals were so damn good, that EU introduced a law forcing those offering such deals to show price history, hilarious stuff :)
Good deals need no advertisement, believe me.
By blocking ads you can only gain. You not only do the right thing by cutting revenue of questionable and potentially harmful businesses.
You also protect your privacy, close off access to yourself for politicians, scammers, spammers, distractions, time wasters, lobbyists, scaremongers, fanatics and idiots – just to name a few.
You make it harder to offer you a bad deal, as the firm’s wont be able to reliably figure out what your pain point is.
Blocking ads can be beneficial for your mental health, as it cuts off lots of things that try to play on your emotions, get reactions from you, make you feel not good enough, make you worried, angry.
You may also be spending less – and this is almost always beneficial. Spending less usually means you have to work less, an this means you have more life for yourself.
Blocking ads is beneficial on so many levels and there is nothing to loose, nothing to miss out on. Ads have no value for you.
So start blocking ads today and spread the word by sharing this post if you can.
Can we crush the system by blocking ads? I have no clue, but at least we can put up a fight, resist, make things difficult for the bad guys. We can opt out of a thing that is clearly bad and wrong.
It may not be much for ordinary folks, but us, in the independent scene? Is resistance not a part of who we are, a part of what we believe?
Are we not those supposed to rebel?
Well rebellion has never been easier – just block the goddamn ads.
A book recommendation for you, a bit dated now but still very valid: “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” by Shoshana Zuboff.