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Metro Views

Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.

To escape those infuriating targeted ads on social media, just turn off the computer and walk away

This is modern life: suffering through the detritus of wonky algorithms that may or may not know you, and both options are bad.


It’s a messaging minefield out there on the web.

Scrolling through social media feels like walking down a crowded market street to the shouts of vendors hawking hair extensions, even though they should know, by the hundreds of photos I’ve posted to social media, that I have a great hair.

This is modern life: suffering through the detritus of wonky algorithms that may or may not know you, and both options are bad.

No, Facebook, I don’t want to click on the image of an overweight woman whose “SHOCKING New Look Has Him Kicking Himself”.

First, I’m not into body-shaming. Second, I suspect it’s sponsored content because none of my 635 Facebook “friends” post things like that. Third, I know it’s sponsored content because, even though you’ve dressed up the avatar as the sexy brunette Sophia Jones, you’ve had to add that small “sponsored” tag.

BTW, Facebook, I’m also meh about zombie culture.

Instagram’s no better. So I follow a few fashion designers. That’s aspirational, maybe even masochistic. I can no better afford that Mercedes-Benz you’ve pushed into my feed than a Vera Wang dress. Even if I could, I tend to think unnecessarily expensive cars are a great way to advertise your warped priorities. (If you’ve driven by me in your Ferrari and I ignored you, it was on purpose.) Canadian Tire is more my price range, but Instagram should know that if I want to find out how to hang a picture, I won’t look for a sponsored post. I’ll Google it.

Elsewhere on the web, I am tormented by ads that are harder to deride and dismiss.
I’m considering visiting websites with products that I hate, just so I don’t have to look at the dove-grey, large-face gold-rimmed watch I’d love to buy, but can’t afford, or the soft white leather slip-on shoes that would look great with the wide-leg ankle-length slacks I am coveting.

It is cruel to have to research a story while images of things I want but cannot have rotate on repeat at the side of my screen.

Of course, this is the world now. We were told they’d start following us and anticipating our needs. When they don’t get it right, it’s to ridiculous effect. When they do, it’s taunting.

Maybe a new argument should be made for screen-free time, one based not only on avoiding harmful blue light and scattered attention, but also on avoiding the reflection of who algorithms say you are. So you can just be.

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