A Newport Ad, The Internet, and Us

This week we received a tri-fold postcard advertisement in the mail for Newport Lights. We keep our recycling bins on the front porch (because we’re classy, but also green) so I usually pull ads out of the mailbox and drop them right into the recycling bin. This one was a strange exception though. I had to bring it inside and show Chas. What kind of an anachronism is a paper ad for cigarettes being mailed to my house? It contains an invite to make your own video on the Newport website, descriptions of two contests to win trips, one to New York City and the other to Hollywood, and coupons for cigarettes. How desperate have we become? And by “we,” I mean Reynolds Tobacco Company.

One thing that strikes me the most is that thousands of people must receive this ad. But who actually cares?

It’s printed on nice paper. It’s visually appealing. But who are these people who take these coupons and buy Newports? Is the goal to get people to start smoking? In the year of our lord, two thousand and eighteen? Are we serious? Am I supposed to think “Ooo $4 off! I think I’ll pick up this deadly habit and run with it!”?

What are we supposed to care about anymore? In a given “normal” American day, I receive two or three snail mail ads; absentmindedly view hundreds of online ads on a work day; if it’s a Bachelor(ette/in Paradise) day then a few repeated TV ads on abc.com; when I take 83, maybe eight or nine billboards; and probably more I’m not thinking about. It amazes me that our brains even weed through enough to prove that it’s worth buying ad time and space. But they must work because according to this top hit on google, TV advertising alone is a $71 billion per year industry. No way “they’d” be spending that much money on something ineffective.

So what’s urgent anymore? There are so many people and companies and devices all vying for our attention. It’s like little visual and audio explosions going off all around us all the time to the extent that we don’t even know how to deal and in some cases care–kind of like the Trump presidency.

———

So while I am squarely a millennial, I now have social media (as of the past 10 months), and I am technology literate and a very fast typer, here are my pet peeves about the digital age, a time that makes paper cigarette ads look quaint and surprisingly, almost endearing.

Passwords

How many passwords and versions of the same password do we all have by now? Mine’s gotta be in 90s. When I try to log into certain websites such as Apple, I just change my password every single time. It’s useless. Sometimes I email myself my new passwords and then can’t remember what I called the emails. Did I add a ? and a ! or a !?! or just a !? Was there a 1 at the end? Was the a and @?

If I could have back all the time I have spent trying passwords, resetting passwords, asking the website to email me, logging back in, remembering what I wanted on the site in the first place, I’d have time to write a novel. Give us back that time, universe!

Captchas

I will let John Mulaney handle this one. This is from his new Netflix special, Kid Gorgeous. Do yourself a favor and watch the entire thing, especially if you attended Catholic school.

The world is run by computers. The world is run by robots and we spend most of our day telling them we’re not a robot just so we can log on and look at our own stuff. All day long. ‘May I see my stuff please?’

“Ahhh, I smell a robot! Prove, prove, prove! Prove to me you’re not a robot! Look at these curvy letters. Much curvier than most letters, wouldn’t you say? No robot could ever read these. You look mortal, if ye be. You look and you type what you think you see! Is it an E or is it a 3? That’s up to ye. The passwords that passed, you correctly guessed, but now it’s time for the robot test! I’ve devised a question no robot could ever answer. Which of these pictures does not have a stop sign in it?”

Internet Grammar, Spelling, and Usage

This does not fit here but it’s been driving me bananas lately and I must get it off my chest. “Myself” is a reflexive pronoun. It can only be used when it refers back to an antecedent earlier in the sentence. You cannot say “See Ms. Sophie, Mr. Bongo, or myself if you have questions.” NO NO NO NO NO. Uncle Michael, I dedicate this paragraph to you and I am certain you are also cringing at this idea. If you use “myself” without an antecedent, you sound like you’re trying to be smart but you’re not sure how. Here’s how you can use it correctly. I will handle your grammatical problems myself.

Back to the title of this section. I know. I know. My soapbox is really tall. But why do we have to give up while we’re using the internet? Your vs. you’re just is not that hard to differentiate. Your yoga photo with the quote from Rolf Gates is meaningless to me if you follow it up with “Follow you’re dreams.” Vom.

Passive Aggressive Posts

This is rare from the people I actually “follow” but it happens. If you want to say something to someone, just fucking say it. Stop putting some Snapchat-enhanced selfie up as a way to say “Only care about people who care about you” or some other bullshit about something you’re too scared to say out loud.

Hatred

Posting hate on the internet (like this post…?) is a waste of energy. Put that energy into something else, people. Quit hiding behind that computer and improve what you hate about the world. Also, see above.

Rabbit Holes

It happens to the best of us. Have you ever started off googling a contestant on the Bachelor and an hour later found yourself looking at photos of Barbara Streisand’s ex-husbands? Yuk. I’ll take this time back along with the time spent attempting passwords, resetting, and retrying.

Weddings

I do not want to type this one. I know sometimes I make people I love sensitive to what I write about because I will put something here that I might not say to individuals aloud. Again, see above. So with pre-regret or pre-gret, I write this. When people attend weddings, it seems like they must take and post a photo with a partner and say one of the following:

  1. Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. _________________. #dumbweddinghashtag #truelove
  2. Had a great time celebrating the new Mr. and Mrs. _____________________.  #dumbweddinghashtag #truelove
  3. Such a beautiful weekend celebrating these two! #dumbweddinghashtag #truelove

I will not judge you if you do this. Please continue, by all means. It’s normal now. And I’m sure it’s nice for the couple to see their hashtag used by many people. It’s supportive. But maybe I’m less so. And I’m sorry if I offended you, which leads to my next pet peeve…

Self-loathing

We can’t help it. Looking at the internet for any amount of time in the wrong place can make us feel ugly, stupid, inadequate, dumb, unaccomplished, and so many more things. There was a lot less self-loathing being passed around before the internet age.

———

Overall, what gets me about technology and how much we use it (hell, I’m using it right now and so are you), is that we forgo interactions with real humans. We ignore the people in front of us who, most of the time, are also ignoring us back. Our advances are great and technology has made literally almost everything better, but it sounds kind of nice to just visit an era for a bit (time-machine-style) that values, prioritizes, and spends energy on other things. A time when snail mail mattered and people had to remember how to spell and passwords were reserved for kids trying to block you from entering a room and we judged ourselves less because we weren’t constantly flicking through photos of other people and human faces mattered more than images of them on a screen.

Back to John Mulaney’s Kid Gorgeous…

Everything was slower back in the old days ’cause they didn’t have enough to do, so they had to slow things down to fill the time. I don’t know if you read history, but back then people would wake up and go, “God, it’s the old times.”

“Shit, I gotta wear all those layers. There’s no Zyrtec or nothing. Okay, we gotta… We gotta think of some weird slow activities to fill the day.”

And they did.

Have you ever seen old film from the past of people just waving at a ship? What if I called you now to do that?

“Hey, what are you doing Monday at 10:00 a.m.? All right, there’s a Norwegian Cruise Line leaving for Martinique. Here’s my plan, you and me get very dressed up, including hats, and then we wave handkerchiefs at it until it disappears over the horizon. No, I don’t know anyone on the ship.”

So where does this leave me (us)? Sure, I’d take technology over not technology. And this Newport Light advertisement doesn’t really offend me as much as it should because I loathe cigarettes and its old-timey-ness is sort of charming, but can we at least all agree on using reflexive pronouns correctly, or at least yours and theirs? Can we put our heads together and find some alternatives to this password madness/time-suck? Or at least agree to talk to one another in favor of climbing into rabbit holes that only lead us to find out Cap’n Crunch’s real name? (It’s Horatio Magellan Crunch.)

I love technology but it’s just as flawed, or more flawed, than we are. I’ll admit that and then chuck this cute little Newport ad in the recycling.

 

3 thoughts on “A Newport Ad, The Internet, and Us

  1. “Overall, what gets me about technology and how much we use it (hell, I’m using it right now and so are you), is that we forgo interactions with real humans. We ignore the people in front of us who, most of the time, are also ignoring us back.”
    Sorry to quote from what was just written above but this has been a pet peeve of mine, particularly since smart phones became omnipresent. We need more human interaction and less phone isolation. Phones should not be our gods…LOL, D

    Like

  2. Advertising attempts to convince you that you’re unique by using a product, while striving to convince as many people as possible of this uniqueness. A perfect marketing plan, say for some sort of handheld communication device, would result in everyone buying the same expensive gadget in service of the belief that it helps define their individuality. Whoever coined the term “smartphone” for a machine that attacks critical thinking skills, problem-solving ability, patience, and emotional security while ramping up vanity, shortsightedness, and mob rule was a branding genius…and a liar. Technology has its ups and downs, but in times of frustration, nothing relaxes like the smooth, soothing menthol refreshment of a Newport Light… A pack or two a day is a fine substitute for regular dental visits.

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  3. First, myself is thrilled to me mentioned in this blog. I think I am now actually ahead of Joe – after lobbying hard – by a count of maybe 5 to 4.

    Second, I use the word “WEAK” when asked for a password. If gives me instant affirmation.

    Last – my next pet will be named “Peeve.” Makes for interesting introductions.

    Uncle Michael

    Liked by 1 person

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