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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It is easy to see why people can get confused about what is right and what is wrong if all they do is utilize social media for their opinions. With all of the issues currently running concurrently in our country and around the world, it is easy to see why so many people are having a hard time finding a place to fit in when it comes to being a part of society.

Corporate greed is often cited as an issue that oppresses a lot of people and that greed has caused reactions such as the latest movement to increase the minimum wage. But it appears to me that not only are corporations greedy, but they are also ignorant and irresponsible as well. What do I mean? I mean that, if you spend enough time online, it becomes extremely clear that corporations are following the numbers and not actually paying attention to where their marketing messages are being displayed. These are companies that spend millions of dollars on expanding their brand name and image, yet they are doing nothing to monitor where that image is being projected and who that image is being associated with.

I was clicking around social media when a story about a very racist and dangerous speech caught my attention. I clicked on the link to go to the story and before I could read the story, I was presented with a full-page Home Depot ad that I had to close to read the story. Does Home Depot know that their company is being associated with people who offer racist hate speech to the public?

The issue is that corporations tend to get tunnel vision when it comes to their pursuit of profits. All of those ads you see surrounding the stories on or popping up when you click on a social media link are selected based on your personal preferences. But there is nothing in place that offers the advertiser the opportunity to not be associated with certain types of content. This is greed at its very worst because, to me, it looks like Home Depot is willing to be associated with racist hate speech just to try and sell me a gallon of paint. It seems harmless, but it can actually have a very negative effect on any corporation that does not monitor its marketing.

Another good example are those pop-up ads you get when you click on certain sites and the pop-up viruses you can get that keep on throwing ads up on your computer screen. I have not had a pop-up virus in a long time, but I clearly remember that the last time I had one I had to close a lot of ads from Coca-Cola. Does Coca-Cola condone computer viruses? I am not sure, but they are supporting them by paying for space on these ads. The same can be said for the companies that pay to have spam emails sent to my inbox. Am I going to buy a single product from a spam email or a pop-up ad? No, I will not. But I can tell you that I think twice now about buying Coke products, simply because of the feeling that Coca-Cola approves of loading viruses onto my computer.

I know that this discussion is not even close to being the normal type of topics that I discuss here, but I have been making this observation for years and I have decided that it is time to put it down on “paper.” The blind pursuit of profit in corporate America has created a situation where ads are acceptable no matter what kind of content those ads are associated with. The corporations do not care what kind of content their advertising is being associated with, just so long as that advertising is being seen by enough potential customers.

This, to me, is another example of how American self-consciousness is being eroded away. Many of the jurors associated with the Rodney King case said that watching the video of King getting beaten by L.A. police officers over and over again eventually desensitized them to the violence of the actual act. Is that bad? Yes, because now those people will never be able to see the horror in a beating like that and their perception of violence has been altered. The same thing is true with every person in this country who sees violent images and videos on news websites every day. We are becoming more and more desensitized to oppression and violence and that is only getting worse with each generation.

Should Home Depot be terrified that their advertising is being used to fund an article about racist hate speech? Yes, it should. But it isn’t because people simply do not care anymore. Advertising on the Internet has become so prevalent, that people no longer associate the companies that fund these articles with the content itself.

The end result is a society that will continue to allow articles about elderly abuse in long-term care facilities to be funded by advertising from funeral homes. It is much more than just ironic, it is an indication of how far we have fallen and how much we will now allow to be part of the “American way of life.” All is forgiven as long as profit is involved and that is just one more reason why American society is headed downhill rapidly.

+George N Root III is a Lockport resident and the kind of guy who pays attention to online advertising. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him an email at

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