It’s an Ads World We Live In

I found your template, crappy ad-filled websites.

I found your template, crappy ad-filled websites.

Occasionally I get suckered into hitting a clickbait article link. It’s okay, I can admit it and therefore can start the healing process. But I must admit that my thirst to know “10 Secrets You Never Knew About ‘90’s Cartoons” can be easily squashed by a site with too many ads.

A certain understanding should come into play in this new world of information technology: Ads are money. We buy things, we go places—sure—but we will never escape ads.

They’re on our phones and our computers and tablets; they’re on buses and on giant signs in the sky; television now as a 3-to-1 ratio of programming-to-commercials; respectable newspapers allow ads masked as news articles to be printed in their publications; we sit through commercials when we go to the theater! When I bring my Kindle Fire up from sleep mode, the first thing I see is an ad. Even as I sit here typing this up on my Microsoft Word Starter, there is a tiny, changing ad in the bottom right-hand corner of the window.

Ads are so prominent in our society that it’s not unheard of to see people with tattoos of product logos. Tattoos of product logos. Your love for dodge trucks must run really deep if you allow yourself to be permanently branded with their ram’s head icon.

We live in a time in which one click can be equal to one quarter. In which more money goes into marketing a product than developing the product itself. In which one good viral campaign can make you a millionaire.

On some levels I find this all amazing. How did we get here? How does a country that once prided itself on manufacturing worry more with the right font or background music?

But on other levels, I find it highly disturbing. Not because marketing money is a sort of invisible transaction, but because it’s so overwhelming. It makes me wonder if I have any personal taste that’s completely mine. Do I truly love the products I love? Or do they just have a great marketing team? Are the services I subscribe to worth my dime? Or am I just in it because they made me think I need it?

A few weeks ago I made up the picture at the top of this entry mocking certain websites. And while my friends on Facebook found it funny, it wasn’t really meant as a joke. I designed it after finding that I couldn’t swim through the ads of a particular page. That “template” is actually pretty accurate to said site.

I think people who make money from ads are impressive. It’s a feat that I can marvel at. However, I keep finding it difficult to try and sidestep into the industry. I have two sites—this blog and its associated vlog, neither of which I’ve monetized yet. You’ll occasionally find ads on both sites, but they aren’t from me (WordPress shows ads unless you pay them not to, and when you use certain copyrighted songs on YouTube they place ads on that video to compensate), but every time I say to myself, “Maybe now is the right time to do it,” I just can’t seem to.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a marketing guy. Sometimes I think that because of this, I’ll never make money in this ad-driven world. Instead, I prefer people to feel like they’re getting something for their money* (or clicks, as it were).

For the online artist, ads are a huge help, though. I know that a lot of my favorite people are forced to put them up on their sites. Which is a shame, since nothing looks better than a clean, ad-free page.

One day I might have the fan base so that monetizing would be well worth it. But until that day, I’ll keep my sites as ad-free as possible. I’ll never say that I’ll never have them, though, because in a world where avoiding seeing ads is damn near impossible, making money without them is even less likely.

Footnotes:
*Which is why I put up my Etsy shop again! CLICK HERE TO SEE IT ALL CAPS!
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The Sexiest Facial Hair

After much discussion with some friends, we decided that the creepiest facial hair is NOT the pencil-line chin strap; the creepiest facial hair is NOT the pencil-thin mustache just above the lips; the creepiest facial hair is NOT the flesh-colored, non-ironic Fu Manchu. No, the creepiest facial hair would be one in which you outlined where your natural facial would normally be…with facial hair.

But then I trimmed myself up and, damn, what a sexy beast, guys! Everyone should start doing this because the ladies love it. During the twenty minutes I had this facial hair, I had to lock myself up in my house to keep the women off me.

Pretending is fun…

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Door-to-Door Jesus Salesmen

It never quite surprises me when I answer the door to find a couple of folks in their Sunday Best, clutching pamphlets and sporting painful-looking smiles. I live in a place where it’s fairly common. Two to three times a year I’ll get someone on the front stoop looking to enlighten me on the subject of insert-religion-here. Even more common are the street sellers; those that go up and down busy streets looking to talk to those of us jaunting down the sidewalks.

              I always try to be as polite as I can. After all, this is a task that they feel—for one reason or another—that they have to do. They’re just doing their job for the church. I listen to their opening speech, searching for a way to slip into the conversation—not because I want to get rid of them right away, but because I feel bad they’re wasting their time on me. I always smile back and talk in a reasonable voice. And before they leave I offer them a bottle of water.

              I nod along until they’re done and ask me something like, “Doesn’t that sound nice?” or “We just wanted to know what you think about that?” First of all; no, you don’t want to know what I think about that. Which is why I give my kindest smile and reply to them, “I’m not in the market for a new religion.”

              This is a slight that usually goes unnoticed. I’m really comparing them to the door-to-door salesmen of old.

              Believe it or not, I’m old enough to remember door-to-door salesmen. I’m not talking lawn-care guys, either. I’m talking about legit, products-under-arms, fantastic-speech-from-memory, door-to-door salesmen.

              When I was a kid a guy came to our door selling vacuum cleaners. At the time I could care less—I was watching cartoons as the man showed my mother how well his product worked. He probably stayed only for a few minutes (enough time to show the “dirt” from our carpet, which I now realize was a marketing scam) but it felt like he’d been there forever, interrupting my TV time. Later in life I would marvel at the idea that an honest-to-god vacuum salesman had been in our house. That’s something you only see in TV shows from the 1950’s.

              But those street stomping marketers died out a long time ago as things like internet shopping and the everything stores came into power. And with the exception of the aforementioned lawn-care guys who are ready to point at the single brown spot on your grass with raised eyebrows, door-to-door sales is an absurd thought anymore.

              Except when it comes to religion.

              We find it completely non-shocking to find Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses at our door, wide-eyed yet ready for rejection.

              My biggest curiosity at this is actually regarding the number of converts they get through this tactic. Does this sort of thing work? Especially in a town as religiously stubborn as ours? Where the Catholics are Catholic and the Protestants are Protestant and the Jews are Jewish and the Atheists are Atheist. I don’t know a single person who has said to me, “Y’know, I’ve been looking for a new religion. I wonder which one is the best…”

              Frankly, when it comes down to it, I think it’s all about remaining in existence. It’s a way of letting people know they’re still there. Or, rather, they’re still here. I’d completely forget that every religion that’s not those of my family and friends are present in my city if it weren’t for these guys.

              It’s like when you see religious protesters holding signs that say marriage equality is a sin or abortion is murder. They’re not converting anyone to their line of thinking—only reminding others that their line of thinking still exists. The opposite of the “silent majority”; the loud minority.

              What’s great about door-to-door religion salesmen, however, is their calm demeanor and willingness to have a conversation. It’s hard to get a Mormon mad! There’s a reason for that, of course—they’re so confident in their beliefs that getting angry at people for not believing those things is ridiculous. One would have to have confidence in their beliefs in order to go from house-to-house talking about them.

              They’re also completely willing to answer your questions—even if you’re only asking them out of sarcasm or to prove a point. If you ever want to get into a genuine conversation—not argument or debate, but conversation—on religion, there’s no better person to talk to than those religion peddlers.

              The other nice thing about those laden with this task is their willingness to just leave. Usually after my “Not in the market for a new religion” remark they thank me for my time and go on. Try getting out of religion talk with your family on Thanksgiving. It’s not easy.

              There are a couple of female Mormons that frequent one of my favorite streets. If male Mormons are polite, female Mormons are downright kind. Whenever they stop me (they never seem to remember that we’ve talked before) I’ll chat them up about this or that. Just before leaving they offer to pray for something on my behalf—not a “Let us bow our heads” type of prayer, but a “Hey, I’ll be praying later, want me to toss something in there for ya?” type of prayer. I usually say no thanks, noting that, “I have a sister who does that for me.”

              Occasionally I’ll try flirting with them just to see the response I get. You know what response I get? The nicest laughs and the smoothest shutdown I’ve ever gotten from any woman I’ve ever flirted with. They even reject you kindly!

              At worst, these people are mild annoyances: I have to get up to answer the door; they stopped me on my way to pick up food. Which is why I also don’t understand why people get so angry at door-to-door Jesus salesmen. Is it some threat to their own religion? Does it bring up some self-doubt in them? All you have to do is say, “No, thanks. Would you like a bottle of water for the road?” and they’re on their way in no time.

              And, hey, at least we don’t have to deal with vacuum salesmen trying to trick you into thinking your house is dirtier than it really is, anymore. Just religion salesmen trying to make you think your soul is dirtier than it really is.

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Product Placement

 

I hired myself to do a video with a product placement in it, but as per usual, I fucked it up. Oh well.

But you can visit my Etsy shop here! That’s what I was trying to plug, but…y’know…I can’t do anything right. EXCEPT THE THINGS ON MY ETSY SHOP!

Hey! I also added a new page to my site where you can preview and find direct links to my Etsy, which now has products up. View the page by clicking the button above, or by lazily clicking this link here.

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How I See Myself

 

 

EPSON MFP image

Mental illness is nothing to joke about. Unless you’re the one pretending to fight monsters in a public park.  Those other people simply don’t understand the true power of imagination! Neither do the people in white coats. Nor the orderlies.

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“Beverly Hills Cop” Theme

You guys ready for this? No, you’re not. The single best/worst vlog I’ve done to date.

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Depression and Lottery Tickets

I have a hot case of undiagnosed seasonal depression. If I’m self-diagnosing, though, I could probably go as far as to say that I’m depressive most of the year, but during the winter and summer months I get worse. Maybe I should say I have seasonal clinical depression?

              I’m fine and I laugh and I go out most of the year, but whenever the weather changes drastically I get very introverted. Suddenly I have no interesting in being with other people and my self-confidence—what little there was to begin with—plummets like a hawk going in for the kill.

              It’s been like this for as long as I can remember and I’ve learned to push through the seasonal changes. The real problem occurs when I don’t realize it’s happening.

              You see, at times I’ve found myself severely depressed and I have to stop and ask, “When did that happen?” Like someone turning your bedroom light off while you’re deep asleep, and not realizing it until you wake up the next day, my mental health would tip-toe off in the night.

              Thus I found ways of keeping track of my level of depression when I would otherwise be allowed to forget about it until I was in too deep. Ways like noting the number of times I’ve gone out to be with friends in the past month; how late I allow myself to sleep in; and how often I buy lottery tickets.

              Lottery tickets. However absurd the very idea is, they help me realize faster than anything else that I’m slipping away into the isolation of my mind.

              Half a decade ago I was buying them two, three, or more times a week. Then, when I started investing in more realistic financial endeavors, I cut back to once or twice a month. Eventually I was down to twice a year—once around Christmas, once for my birthday (or, one in winter, one in summer).

              However, there would be times when I would catch myself buying them up once or twice a week again. I stopped and looked at myself, only to realize the reason: I was depressed.

              Now, there is a certain direct connection between my depression and money—in that I get depressed when I have none. Whoever came up with that old phrase of “money does not buy happiness” was more than likely in deep denial. But there is also a more subtle connection: The fantasy.

              I never win; not even my dollar back from a few matching numbers. Never. In fact, I find it highly improbable the number of times I’ve not gotten a single number right. Somewhere in the past few years, however, I stopped playing for the money and kept playing for the fantasy

              I could fall asleep at night thinking about what if and the kind of person I could be if only. I didn’t expect to win, but having that slip of paper in my wallet allowed me to live the fantasy—if only for a day or two.

              There’s a phone number on the back of lottery tickets for gambling addiction. But where’s the number for fantasy addiction? I would say that paying sixty dollars for a video game is the equivalent, but playing video games at least gives me better hand-eye coordination! Lottery tickets give me nothing, except a false sense of hope.

              I hear people talk a lot about mental health. Unfortunately it’s usually in regards to real psychopaths—and usually right after a large number of people have died at the hands of one. People hardly ever talk about depression as mental health, and when they do, they treat it like a wart you can will away. They want to say, “If you’re feeling depressed, go get some help” like I can jog down to the corner store for an over-the-counter prescription that’ll make things better.

              But pills don’t make things better. They mask your true emotions so that you can pretend to be happier than you really are. Chemical imbalances exist in some people, but I truly believe the majority of us are just sad. It’s not about medication, it’s about learning to become happy—something that is much easier said than done.

              And this is where the problem comes full tilt: Because as long as we can think of depression as something that’s cured with a pill, we can think of it as a health issue. When you get into therapy and counseling, though, then you’re a hippie-dippie sort and why should my tax dollars go toward your alternative medicine!

              We’re a depressed nation and until we can get together and think about why we’re depressed and how to fix it once and for all, we’re going to remain that way.

              But, hey, at least that’s good for the lotto people.

 

 

Hey! A quick note at the end of this depressing piece: My Etsy shop is back up and running with a few items. You can head on over to see what I’ve put up.

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