Darkside of the Sun: Doctors hate this old woman

Mike Corrigan

Mike Corrigan

By Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

On the screen, a picture of a rather attractive older lady, smiling. Beneath: “Doctors HATE This 78 Year Old Woman!” You’re supposed to click on the picture to find out why such a sweet-looking senior citizen has become the focus of the animus of all the M.D.s in the United States.

Strangely, on the Internet, doctors are surprisingly full of hatred for the public. They despise the man who mixed up a can’t-miss arthritis formula in this bathtub! They abhor the girl whose acne went away in two days, without even a trip to Lourdes! Doctors can’t stand people who are off their heart medications for good, because they are now eating THIS ONE SIMPLE FOOD, every day! I think doctors really ought to take it easy; maybe they should try the special herb I am growing in my back yard, to lower their blood pressure. Just $48 for the first month’s supply!

“Roll over this copy for deals,” the ad on the top of one of my sports websites says (in unnoticeably small type). The rollover ad is located conveniently (for them) right under my toolbar. Every time I go to change the story, my cursor passes over the infected area, and the expanded ad plasters itself across the entire screen. It takes minutes, sometimes hours, to figure out how to get rid of the thing. Often, I find it wiser to just hit Force Quit and go to bed.

Other perverse attention-grabbers include blinking ads, which can bring on seizures. (At my age, anything can.) Or, through the magic of “cookies,” you notice a familiar name and address off to the left: “Michael, Bridgton Residents are SHOCKED By This New Website!” the copy promises. I’ll bet they are.

A lot of “simple tricks” I never knew are, allegedly, just one click away. Seventeen-dollar-a-month auto insurance, for example. This is just a sneaky link to the regular MegaMutual website — where you find the quoted $17 rate is for those two people in the United States people who drive under five miles a month (and probably at under five miles an hour, too). You, being almost normal, haven’t a chance in the world of qualifying for such a rate, but you don’t find that out unless you click. By now, suspicious of anything clickable, you know better. But say you click, just out of curiosity. What happens? Your phone rings instantly. “This is Norma from MegaMutual. You recently went on a website looking for lower auto insurance rates…” Everyone knows so much about you now. Who needs the NSA?

The Internet was devised by the United States government and, to the surprise of all, it was one government program that has fairly rapidly become actually useful. You can go to anything.com or anything.org, or watch last night’s episode of Colbert, or bridgton.com, or order a book from Amazon, or donate to your favorite cause, or find a route to Michigan via GoogleEarth. It’s fascinating — sometimes. But along the way you will be heartlessly pursued by blinking, flashing, colorful ads for some of the most useless — shockingly useless — products and services ever devised by the mind of man.

Now, the industry hopes to charge people extra for broader broadband and faster speeds; they say this will mark the end of “net neutrality.” But I’m not really clear about what net neutrality actually is. I guess it means the services and sites and information (and ads) on there are equally accessible to all. So, to take that away, there must be money in it for the cable monopolies. But I’m thinking, maybe the silver lining is, there are no ads on the un-neutral net, for those who can afford to buy broader and faster, and pay the higher rate. If this is so, people would pay double, just to be rid of the ads disguised as stories, and the ads disguised as offers, and the ads, the ads, the ads…

I once mistakenly agreed to take an Internet survey (which amounted to endless choices among categories of commercial goods, none of which held any interest for me) to qualify for a drawing for a free computer. By the third phone call after I finally gave up, realizing I had been tricked AGAIN, I blew up. I told the telemarketer, “Listen, Norma! Listen, Norma, I don’t want ANY of your useless products! And I NEVER will want them!”

Norma, a true child of the Internet, was shocked. SHOCKED!

Mike Corrigan lives in Lewiston, where his place recently got hooked up to electrical service. Next, with luck — flush toilets!

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