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The bads of ads

I also hate ads, but to play devil's advocate:

  1. It works as a sort of "progressive tax". Everyone pays the same amount of "stolen" attention for "free" internet, regardless of how much money they have. And wealthy people lose more potential earnings for the same fixed amount of time lost to the ad. 
  2. It serves as an inoculation for more nefarious forms of manipulation. In advertising, everyone gets a chance to see what manipulation looks like when the manipulator's motivations are relatively obvious. So when some troll tries to convince you of a conspiracy, or pull you into a pyramid scheme, you might be a little more skeptical of it. ...maybe.

And now to play double devil's advocate:

  1. To get the "progressive tax", I'd prefer to pay real money than have the oppressive shroud of advertising over everything. Also, people aren't paying the "same amount of attention". It's the easily manipulable people who are giving the rest of us a free ride. So in that sense, it's more like a regressive tax on the gullible. 
  2. I'm not sure how well ads actually work as inoculation. It's a nice thought, but it also could be that it normalizes that sort of manipulation. People primed by advertising may actually be more vulnerable to other manipulations. 

I don't think we can do much to change the culture of advertising until we give people the tools to defend against it.  And a nice side benefit is we'd also be giving them the tools to defend against more nefarious manipulations.

Why I've started using NoScript

I also suggest Firefox Reader View (or Just Read for Chrome). These will render only the main article on a page, stripping away all the extra junk. Many commercial sites have clickbait articles, autoplay videos, and other nonsense alongside the main article on a page. Ad Blockers and security add-ons will leave all this distracting noise alone. Reader View renders precisely what you want to see (usually).

But like NoScript, Reader View is a blunt instrument and will throw out useful site features. I only enable it in the rare case where there's a worthwhile article on a crappy site.