I was trying very hard the other day to sign up to a major news site. I’m not paranoid, but I got the impression after a while that the site-owners were going out of their way to be obtuse, difficult, and generally obstructive. And then hey presto – a panel shot into screen, inviting me to sign up with my Bumtweet account. It couldn’t have been easier. Hold that thought.
Today I was similarly signing in to a US site of which I’m already a 4.5 star member (or so their database geeks tell me). I couldn’t sign in…..and the reason – I was told – is that they’re ‘changing their commenting system to combat’ spam from Mars or some other such bollocks. I could now only open commenting with an AOL account. I don’t have an AOL account. But hey presto – a panel shot into screen saying I could get a FREE AOL account right now. Hot shit guys: rush me my free AOL account.
The marathon attempt to comment effortlessly at the Daily Torygraph is now into its second sellout year, and I still don’t know the ending. But when I tried to comment again this morning, hey presto – a panel shot into screen saying ‘Sign in with your Diggit account’. So I did, and it worked….until Diggit then refused to recognise me. (I’ve been trying since November 2008 to comment on Telegraph articles. There are to my certain knowledge three ways to do this: by signing up to My Telegraph, by registering with an email and password for The Telegraph online – or by doing nothing except commenting in a box at random. Now they’ve introduced this fourth: but it doesn’t work either.
Enough already – my point is this: if you are not prepared to be herded into the exact cubby-hole decreed by the web as yours, then the web will freeze you out. And if you want the web to tell you something, by and large it will refuse until you let it sell you something.
I’ve nothing at all against commerce (I was an enthusiastic promoter of it for 35 years) but I really cannot tolerate people treating me as if I just fell off a Christmas tree and thus damaged 90% of my IQ. And just as important, I am sick and tired of hearing how – if I so much as want to sell an article or buy a web domain or earn a salary – those willing to donate this service will in return wish to (i) know my blood-group so they may shaft me without fear of contracting AIDS (ii) get my email address (iii) know the combination to my soul and (iv) tell me never to turn my mobile phone off.
The arrogance of incompetent Mammon permeates every nook and cranny of our lives today. We have a friend coming to stay near to us later this month. The holiday was booked in 2009, and is to commemorate her fifty years on the planet. They up and told her – not asked, told her – last month that there might be a client meeting and if so that was it: either be there or its curtains for your career.
Does she have a choice? Probably not. And to be frank here, if there was the remotest sign that corporates on the whole can tell a toilet from a Toyota, I might say ‘fair enough’. But they so obviously don’t know how to treat customers, do right not wrong, buy when they should sell, take when they should give, or understand anything about what makes humans happy, I’m left asking why younger people today shouldn’t just tell the whole frigging lot of them to go kiss something unpleasant.
But oddly enough, for once that really isn’t their job: if a Government’s first task is to protect vulnerable citizens, then it’s the Government’s job. It shouldn’t be, because any halfway decent Government would’ve protected all of us from bullying employers and crooked marketing decades ago. But they haven’t, so it is.
And while I’m having a go at unbridled Mammon, I keep getting messages from Google telling me to Monetise my account. So here goes: