to the people of the Internet

Greetings, inhabitant of the Web. I don't know how old you are but I have an inkling of your experiences. There's a good chance that you use ad-blocking software, and that you're aware that you're using websites -being served content- without paying for it by looking at ads. And looking at ads is what keeps things going, and all the adblocking is ruining the Internet because websites can't make money. It's like television and commercials.

But hold on a minute - when I used to watch television I muted commercials and went to get a drink. Was that, then, immoral? Was I bleeding television dry by averting my eyes? I suppose I must have been... and so, television is now dead. No more television programmes are made. Oh, well.

Of course the above is nonsense: television adapted. Programmes are now made with more vigour than ever before, people still happily pay for them, but it turns out they'd rather pay with their money than their time - time spent bored senseless.

When it comes to web ads, advertisers know that of the millions of people who see them only a fraction will click an ad, and an even more precious minority will actually end up making a purchase. Advertising is shitty business, and it turns out that having all of the people pay a nominal amount of money to watch stuff is at least as viable and not circumventable by adblockers.

Netflix rises. People eat it up; they are more than willing to pay a couple of monthly shekels to enjoy their television in HD and when they like. Problem solved, old television dies. The core of it, the shit we actually tuned in for, lives on. Television news, commercials, and all the other stuff? Dead or dying, and a good thing, too.

The Internet, I feel, is ready to move on. Massive websites churn out endless streams of "content" - an uninspired, dull word that should serve to point us in the direction of something interesting or entertaining - instead, the trail ends at "content". Constant stimulation drives us only to find ever more content, more, constant, unending. It feels hollow. The soul is steadily drained as we read listicles and find new sources of outrage and look for shows on YouTube... and be constantly ashamed that we're doing it without looking at ads, because ads keep the content generators alive, don't you know.

Now, I will happily read what you have to say, and I will gladly watch you do what you do, but I choose to not look at ads. I choose to not give you money for the right to read something you've put out there for free. We assume that a living wage ought to be attainable just by writing a blog or playing Minecraft - an assumption that has come to us too easily, and one that I feel we must shake.

After all, the marketplace of ideas is nothing if there are not those that don't make it. Let people live real lives and perhaps write about it in their spare time. And just because we listen to their voices, it doesn't mean they get to make a living. It's always been incredibly difficult for authors or filmmakers or artists of any kind to make a living out of their calling - has this changed just because advertising has reached peak permeation?

Consider that not everything you do well translates to feduciary compensation. If you're good at what you do, ask for straight-up money. Get published. If you can't make that happen, the sheer fact that you produce something does not entitle you to fix my eyes to the screen while a Nike ad plays. Review all the vintage skateboards you want, or build your YouTube network if you must, but don't expect to get paid for it.

I wondered about all this for quite a while. Because there is some shit on the auld Internet that interests me, things I read or watch often. But at some point it struck me. I thought of television, and why I just turn off the radio when ads come on. And what I thought was: let it burn.

If the Internet, which has built itself into our lives by massive content-serving websites that beg us to look at their irritating ads and shame us for not doing so, cannot persist when we use it the way we want, I say let it burn. Let all of these aggregators and content-gatherers and blatherers and clickbaiters die silently and see what remains after we sweep the ashes.

I don't know what will happen when the Internet as it is now is collapses, and something, that useful core, rises from what remains. I don't know what it will look like, but I know it will fulfill needs, and until it gets ruined by whatever comes after advertising, it will be good.

So keep or start using ad blocking software. Ads suck, and you don't want to see them. If it hastens the demise of something people don't want to pay for whilst the creators demand pay for their free "content", good on you, you're part of the solution.

Your friend,