The aggressive in-your-face nature of online advertising | Whale’s Tales

It was 3 p.m. on a recent Friday, and there I was, at my computer, desperate to dig up information for a story I had to finish.

Time was running out.

My search had been a painstaking, time-intensive labor of patience for the one elusive news archive I knew contained the nugget I had to have. And by that time, I’d just about reached the end of my day’s allotment of decency and sanity when I spotted the slippery prize on my screen.

“There you are,” I said, relieved, fingers poised to pounce and produce.

But my relief was short-lived. As if on cue to dull my raptures, an ad juxtaposed itself between me and my beloved. I didn’t know anything about said ad, but I loathed it instantly. And like the fly that had found its way into the newsroom, this sucker needed to die.

I knew at least one way to make that happen, but it was creatively hidden. Eventually, however I found the nanoscopic, colorless X that marks “Bye-bye, butthead.” The ad wavered, staggered and disappeared, leaving nothing behind but frustration.

“Bye-bye butthead, now — ”

Ah, naive boy. Swift as thought, two more ads galumphed onto my screen, blocking my weary eyeballs from taking in what I had set out to read. Time was a-wastin’. But in my failed attempts to slay the first of these dragons, I hit the wrong button(s) and poof, I lost the page.

This has become a near-daily scenario, a real pain.

I suppose I could lay this inconvenience solely at the feet of my fat fingers and native clumsiness, which is already reputed to be the stuff of legend among the Tidewater Folk.

I have nothing against advertising per se. It certainly pays the bills here.

But am I alone in perceiving that as of late, online ads have gotten much more aggressive, in-your-face, and noxious? Forcing us to pause and deal with their relentless comings-on when we shouldn’t have to? Driving us into the arms of computer exorcists who know how to push these demons from the road they’re squatting on, flicking their bifurcated tails at us and salving as best they can their red scaly skin?

Not so long ago — so it seems to me anyway — the program we use at this newspaper to write stories, edit them and push them out the door was free of this groundswell of overweening advertising. I had imagined at least it would be sacrosanct. But now these supercharged ads, like so many tiny, biting bugs, have not only infested the program, they’re everywhere.

I’m also sick to death of the sneaky side ads, masquerading as news content, telling us for instance that such and such a person has died. How many times did Betty White die, according to one of these ads, before she did? Must have been alarming to her.

And the ads that promise things they never deliver? I learned early on to skip by what amounts in the end to a trip down advertising lane.

“Resistance is futile,” I hear the ads chortle.

Perhaps it is, but those who push these ads will never get a brass farthing from me.

It makes me think of some guy walking briskly on the sidewalk to pick up something he needs to have before the hardware store just ahead closes, when some dude rears up with a large, sidewalk-blocking sign and shoves it in the guy’s face. The guy bats it away, and is on his way again, when another ad-bearing dude, and then another, and another do the same thing.

As I would not appreciate anyone doing that to me anywhere, I do not appreciate it on my computer.

Robert Whale can be reached at