Lately, Americans can’t go more than a few minutes all day without seeing advertisements. These aren’t your ads of the 1950s. Many of them are for adult products like Viagra, featuring inappropriately dressed women. Other ads most of us would rather not see include ads for marijuana, Plan B, sleazy singles websites, and pornography. Click on what you think is a harmless news article on the Internet, and you’re likely to see the new square blocks advertising down the right side or beneath the article luring you with crude content. With smart phones accompanying us everywhere, just checking email or the Internet means viewing spam and pop-up ads galore.
Attempting to relax and watch a movie or TV, viewers can rarely escape commercials. The new free programs available for streaming TV and movies, such as Crackle, are laced with ads that cannot be fast forwarded over. There are ads played when on hold over the phone, ads on billboards, subways, and buses, and ads in magazines and newspapers. New York City is famous for its billboards featuring mostly naked models. And these are just a few of the many places Americans are bombarded with ads.
There are ad-blocking programs for the Internet and spam-blockers for email, but it is time-consuming to keep up with all of them. Whenever you think you’ve got a handle on it, something changes and a new source of ads appears that you must figure out how to block. And even if you do figure out how to block the new source of ads, there are fewer free ways available to do so.
Most of us have multiple email accounts that we don’t want to get rid of because we’ve been using them for so long. Gmail was great when it first came out, because it blocked virtually all spam, but within the last few weeks it has started placing paid advertising emails at the top of our inboxes. Facebook continues to increase the ads on our pages, now placing them in our news stream.
The average American views thousands of ads per day, and the number increases every year. Immeasurable ads is not the problem, although it can be irritating. Pop-up ads on websites become obnoxious when your computer is old, freezing up the browser indefinitely. Some ads are now so obnoxious they take seconds or minutes to get past in order to reach the content you want to view. However, in a free, capitalistic society, ads are the primary method used to communicate products to consumers, and they provide consumers with goods and services free or for a lower cost in exchange.