Stalked in America

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Experts say that social media has poisoned my generation.

Yet, when I was in college, Twitter and I had a very healthy relationship. Twitter stayed up with me all those late nights that I spent working on projects.

It entertained me during calculus class, so I didn’t fall asleep. And when I was meeting new people? I was sure to let Twitter know, so that they could identify the culprit if I ever went missing.

Twitter was so much a part of my college life that when I graduated in 2012, it lost its charm, and inevitably, we lost touch.

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Companies & their Ads Hijack Social Media

Recently, I learned that a strong presence on social media really makes the difference in freelancing. Subsequently, I’ve made the effort to strike up a relationship with Twitter, yet again.

To my surprise, the relationship has not been as healthy as it was in the past. I quickly found myself spammed with advertisements on everything from video games to cab services.

It’s been horrible. I have to be jumping through ads like an obstacle course just to connect with friends and followers. In fact, just last night a Lyft ad hijacked my Ubersocial and completely blocked off my timeline.

I had to restart my phone just to stop the 15 second ad from replaying over and over again. Unfortunately, this is a problem wherever you go in America.

No Escape – or is There?

I say “in America”, because it’s not the same everywhere else. For instance, in Jamaica we can watch video after video on YouTube without ever seeing a commercial. How many Americans can say that? Even on Instagram, we now have sponsored posts from major companies and tiny start-ups.

There is just no escaping advertisements, and they are increasingly invading our most personal spaces. In fact, today I found a receipt I got from Kroger that featured ads on the back of it in my purse.


Buy this!

Try this!

Unplugging Doesn’t Work

Some people will tell you to bond with nature. Go outside. Take a walk. Go hiking. That might lessen the likelihood of running into ads, but it certainly doesn’t stop it.

I have seen ads nailed to trees on hiking trails. I’m out admiring nature, and some company is trying to sell me shoes and car insurance.

America has basically given Fortune 500 companies the right to stalk me wherever I go. If we can ban bibles in schools, and smoking on planes, then there is no justification for advertisements in a place where people go to disconnect.

The View from Behind the Scenes

Recently, I obtained a client whose primary orders have been articles on marketing and public relations. Working on those projects has taught me even more about how big companies weasel their way into our homes and private spaces.

It’s always deliberate. They want to connect. And like good stalkers, they can’t just wait to run into us at work or school. No, they have to follow us home, and peek through our windows.

They hack into our devices so they can comb through our internet history. They want to see who we’ve been talking to and what about.

We’re all being stalked in America.


Americans have Superpowers

Funny enough, many Americans don’t seem to realise this. You’ve become so desensitised to the invasion, that you barely notice the uninvited guests in your homes and purses. Well, as a Jamaican, I notice.

We don’t have nearly as many confrontations with advertisements in our personal spaces the way Americans do. And when it happens, you can bet it’s mostly coming from American multi-national corporations.

Impressively, Americans have become so well at coping in this situation that they have developed an amazing superpower. The average American is quite adept at ignoring videos, pop ups and banners that companies use to catch their attention.

The Hidden Damage

Even so, while they don’t consciously acknowledge the ads, the damage is still done subconsciously. They’re the reason you have all those outfits in your closet that you’ve never worn.

That’s why you bought a brand new phone when the old one was working just fine. Ads created that growing pile of “stuff” you bought and used for a few months and then never had need for again.

How many of us actually use our Kindles and tablets every day, or utilise half the features we pay hundreds of dollars to have included on our cell phones?

Do you?

Raising Awareness

I wish I could tell you that this was one of those posts where I share a life lesson at the end that solves the problem, but it really isn’t.

Still, I hope that by shedding light on the issue, we might begin to pay closer attention to how these ads we think we’ve ignored affect our cultures and bank accounts.

At best, I can advise you to spend less time on social media and more time actually socialising. Take vacations to small towns and tiny islands. Go off the grid sometimes – even if it means just a few hours of hiking a trail.

Better yet, let’s start a movement to ban companies from stalking us in our private spaces.

But, until then, here are pictures of me stalking Mother Nature at Jones Bridge Park. I must say, she is one lovely lady. ♥

Have a good week, and feel free to rant away in the comments!

Originally published November 16, 2015


47 thoughts on “Stalked in America

  1. I remember the beginning days of Cable Television. The revolutionary idea was you pay for television and you would never get commercials. That did not last long. LOL. Down size, reduce, re-use, recycle and restore 😉

    1. That was the original principle??? Ha! You’re right. That didn’t last at all. Just heard that yahoo is offering ad free email for $5 per month now. Why bother when Gmail is ad -less for free?? They didn’t think that through.

  2. I have always felt that way about ads. I grew up in Paris and as a teen I always questioned why the underground was basically an advertisement gallery when it could be an art gallery instead. Ads are far too quickly invading more and more of our personal spaces and if anything will creep into our lives more and more. What surprises me the most is how so many people fall into the trap without even noticing it. But when one thinks about it, we are born with ads all around us, they are familiar to us in that way. It is a journey in itself to become aware of the invasion. Awesome post, I too hope you will raise awareness throughout the world <3

    1. Thank you Isabelle! It’s good to see I’m not the only one who notices how invasive marketing has become as a practice. We can almost see ads behind our eyelids at this point.

      Amazing that you grew up in Paris, by the way!

      1. Thank you so much Alexis. I have never been to Jamaica but it feels like an amazing place to grow up too 🙂 I too am glad to see there are some of us who notice these things 🙂

  3. Good post you got me to see things as you see it from outside the U.S.
    You are right we do become desensitized and don’t even realize it. Thanks for bringing out in the open and raising awareness … I like your thought at the end… let’s start a movement to ban companies from stalking us in our private spaces. Great idea !

    1. That’s true. I remember when all we would see were other movies. Now we see everything from soda ads to shoes. I usually show up a little late on purpose to make sure I miss them.

    1. Haha. I totally understand the need to advertise. It’s a necessity in business and my blog is a part of my business. My problem is not when companies advertise on their own pages, as I have done, my problem is when they take over my screen or I no longer have the choice to not see, watch or receive the ad.

      Interesting observation though, and thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  4. Great blog post! I love that I am not the only one noticing this, but hate that it is such a fact in our world. Social media is the best and the worst at the same time, but without it, I wouldn’t know about your blog and wouldn’t have read your post. Hard to say where to draw the line exactly? Hope you find some sort of happy medium for yourself.

    1. Thanks Christina! Always a pleasure when you drop by.

      I still love social media and I use WordPress and other sites a lot, too. However, I just wish major corporations wouldn’t throw ads I didn’t ask for in my face, you know? I understand the need to advertise but it shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying the simple things in life.

      Hope you have a good week!

      1. I agree 100% but sadly, without the ads, we are not going to get very far. It’s how all of our adventures can be paid for one day and why our supporters promote us. Everything is cyclical, you help them, they help you. and so on. I don’t like it, but I am learning to live with it.

      2. That is true, but there is a difference between running ads in appropriate spaces and then just plane spamming us. An Ad shouldn’t prevent me from accessing simple things on my phone or send me random notifications. That’s my personal space. I agree they are necessary, but quality should trump quantity here.

      3. oh yeah! I agree totally!!! I can’t believe some of those things happened to you? I haven’t had any takeovers or anything similar yet, thank goodness. 🙂

      4. I think it was just a glitch. At least, I’m hoping it was. It had happened once or twice before.

        A lot of the times companies outsource their marketing and there’s no telling what third parties will do. I hope it doesn’t happen again – to either of us.

  5. How sad that mankind has come to that but how glad I am that my beloved has remained in her ever changing, seasonal, mystical self to help me get away from it all. Love, David

    1. Yes, it really is sad. I totally understand the need to advertise. No one understands that better than a freelancer, I think, but there has to be some limit to it.

      Thanks again for dropping by and I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

      Stay grounded!

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