i wrote this for my column in the newsleader way back in 2002! some of my predictions did not hold true…
I have a confession to make: I am an internet geek. While some people may shy away from the internet and all it holds, I grasp it and embrace it, holding it and all it offers dear to me. You want to hear the geekiness? I used to find coupons that would get me $50 of merchandise free, I know what mp2s are and I remember when Hotmail was owned by Hotmail, not Microsoft.
Lately, however, the quality of the internet has rapidly declined. How so? Well, the afore mentioned $50 coupon? I’m lucky if I find a coupon for free shipping these days! So many web site upstarts were blossoming in 1998-99, free stuff on the internet was easy to find. One web site would offer up to $25 of free merchandise, and all I had to do was pay shipping. Another web site had an offer where if I created a “wedding web site” (I wasn’t getting married, nor am I married now, but what do they know?), I would get $50 free merchandise from a high-quality internet site, and all I had to pay was shipping. Once, I actually found a $20 coupon that INCLUDED shipping; I was ecstatic.
I can’t find anything these days. Amazon.com boasts free shipping on purchases over $100, but when am I going to spend that much? The mp3 craze is so high that finding any mp3s on the internet is nearly impossible, even those you pay for! (Copyright issues: another subject.) Yessiree, the internet is darn near impossible to fanagle any free stuff out of these days. Those were the good old days, when I could get $50 of items for $3.50.
Not only is finding free stuff a futile battle, but pop-up ads are insane. It used to be that only “risque” web sites had pop-up ads with advertisers taking you to their other web sites. Now, everyone and their neighbor is trying to find a good way of advertising on the internet. Advertisements don’t work online. No one pays attention to them, and this is the problem web-companies have; how are they going to sell advertising if research shows web site ads are useless? They have to find some way to fund their web sites, so they inundate us with pop-up ads and monkey target practice and musical dancing bears and $20 free if you click the arrow which is moving so slow a two-year-old could click it. The latest ads are pop-up ads which are almost transparent and have no X to get you out of them! No X means I have to search for five minutes before I can close the ad. Sure, no X means that I have to look at the ad while I’m trying to close it, but it also means that I’m so frustrated I wouldn’t buy from the advertiser anyway!
This is not a good thing, though, because it means to fund these web sites, soon the owners are going to start charging us to view their web sites. I see in the future no more free internet. OK, the internet isn’t totally free now because of the $20/month we pay our internet service providers, but pretty soon we’re going to have to automatically pay X amount of dollars to have internet-based e-mail (Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) and pay a monthly fee to see certain web sites. The Wall Street Journal already charges to look at the entire paper online.
The new trend is going to be upon us soon. You know the old-age adage: “I remember when Twinkies were a nickel, movies were a dime, a bottle of pop was eight cents and gas was 15 cents a gallon.” When I feel I’m ready to spit out an adage of my own to my kid(s), it’ll be “When I was a kid, my e-mail was free, I didn’t have to pay to find out weather information from weather.com and they actually gave me stuff for free, even if I wasn’t married!”