Steven Irby

I consider myself a pragmatic person who generally isn’t extreme about many things. However, I am extreme about, dare I say militant about – advertising or being subjected to advertisements of any kind. I drastically go out of my way to avoid being advertised to in any possible way.

For me, it is essential to not be psychologically manipulated and coerced into buying things and consuming more. I don’t think consumerism is a healthy and environmentally friendly way to live life on this planet in the long run. Being heavily advertised to, at all times, only fuels this kind of behavior

Besides, most mainstream advertisements are hilariously a waste of money and are for things I would never buy. I don’t want a Coca-Cola as I don’t drink soft drinks. I would never buy or drink Bud Light. I don’t take medication daily, and I sure as hell don’t need that pill they’re advertising.

I do have to agree with Facebook’s philosophy of, “if you’re going to see an ad, at least have it be an extremely relevant ad.” The rare time I do see ads is when using social media, and I’ll admit some of the best ads I’ve ever seen were on Facebook platforms. Mostly on Instagram, several times, I’ve been shown ads for products I actually was interested in. So relevant were these ads, I’ve signed up for newsletters and a few times actually made a purchase! These “hyper-relevant” ads are only possible by creepy and dystopian level tracking of everything you do on the Internet. No, thank you.

I’ve since stopped using Instagram and rarely even go on Facebook these days. I do not use Snapchat, TikTok, or any other social media – except some light Twitter usage (the app I use blocks ads on there). I don’t even have Instagram or Facebook installed on my phone. I only view Facebook in an isolated tab using Firefox’s “container tabs.” This tool isolates cookies, which makes tracking possible, only work in this special tab on your browser. Therefore, I rarely see these “hyper-targeted” ads anymore.

I only use the Internet with special tracker blocking tools both on my phone and computer. I use an ad blocker extension with Firefox (which has built-in protection already). On my phone, I use “content blockers,” which basically do the same thing, block trackers and ads. On my computer, I also use privacy extensions that further block all kinds of ways you can be tracked and your privacy compromised.

After a year of aggressively blocking most web trackers, I’ve noticed that even Facebook ads are becoming increasingly irrelevant. They simply aren’t collecting enough data points on me anymore to show me “hyper-relevant” ads.

I don’t ever see or hear traditional ads either. I don’t watch “live TV,” which comes loaded with commercials. Like others my age, I only stream media from services like Netflix. I definitely don’t read the newspaper or look at magazines. I don’t listen to the radio. I pay for a music service to stream music with no ads. I am actually one of the few people that pay for YouTube premium, so I see absolutely no ads when I am on YouTube.

The only time I might be subjected to any advertisement is when a podcast or YouTube video talks about their sponsorship in the middle of the episode. I typically just fast forward past that part in the podcast or video. In the case of YouTube videos with the sponsorship part at the end. I simply stop watching the video right then and there, when they start to mention the sponsor. So even when there are sponsorships ads, I’m not really subjected to them.

Of course, there are always billboards or large bright signs out in the real world. Frankly, you can easily tune out most of these over time. Especially after a while when you mentally know where the billboard is. Assuming it is stationary and you drive/walk by it all the time, you can train yourself to tune out these kinds of ads.

This only leaves ad placements on TV shows or movies. Which are basically impossible to hide from. Short of never watching TV or movies (which I’m slowly headed towards doing). These are where they show the characters on-screen drinking a Coca-Cola or driving a certain kind of car, and maybe using or talking about some product.

At this point, I virtually see or hear no advertisements of any kind. Short of some billboard that catches my eye or on-screen ad placements. Maybe that occasional ad when I browse Facebook, which is more and more irrelevant as time passes. Just the way it should be.