#2. We Can Make Commercials Stop Shoveling Bullshit
Imagine the most bullshit commercial any company has ever had the balls to air. No, wait, you don't have to imagine it, because it's this one from 5 Hour Energy:
Now imagine that they got so much backlash that they put out a followup commercial saying, "Hey, we just wanted to apologize for that verbal middle finger we gave you. The truth is that our energy drink -- and pretty much every energy drink on the entire planet -- is bad for you. There isn't a sane, credible doctor on Earth who would look you dead in the eyes and recommend our product without then laughing until he vomited blood. That's why we worded that boldfaced lie so specifically, in hopes that you were too stupid to pick up on it. Honestly? 5 Hour Energy gets you pretty amped. And yes, you do in fact get tired when the rush goes away. The truth is, if what you're looking for is a quick speed rush for a few hours, we've got you covered. If you're worried about your health, this ain't it. Because in no alternate dimension of existence is it healthy to drink these, and we're kind of assholes to have even considered that joke of a commercial."
How We Can Make It Happen:
Stop buying shit from companies that treat you like a fucking idiot. These people treat you like a moron because they're banking on the fact that you are. If you show them that you aren't, then by the very nature of their industry, they have to stop addressing you that way. Advertisements that decrease sales are scrapped so fast, you can hear the air collapse in on itself from the vacuum it leaves in its wake.
Look up at the hit counter of this article. Even if it's the biggest failure of any article I have ever written, imagine that many people writing a simple email to 5 Hour Energy (or any product from any company), telling them that they were so insulted by their commercial, it alone made them decide to not buy the product. That influx of feedback from offended customers would be a fucking PR nightmare.
"On behalf of 5 Hour Energy, you can eat my shit!"
Why We Won't:
It's easier to write a Facebook post saying, "Look at this dumbass commercial," than to write an email to the company, telling them that they insulted you out of a sale. It's easier to laugh at it than challenge it -- "Ha! How stupid do they think we are? Oh well, commercials will be commercials, I guess." And because of those reasons, those ads not only exist ... they thrive.
The marketing people hold up those tweets and status updates as a trophy. "Look how many people are talking about 5 Hour Energy! Hell, a columnist from Cracked even wrote a thing about it, and look how many people read it! We deserve a raise!" If our reaction to their bullshit is to just roll our eyes, they buy studio time to create more of the same.
"Your motivation is that you're lying in order to sell things. Aaaaand ... action."
We absolutely have a means of putting a stop to it, but we won't because it requires action. And most people hear that and think, "Eh, who cares? It's just a stupid commercial." Even though it was clearly designed as an attempt to blatantly trick people into thinking that doctors recommend adding it to their diet. Make no mistake, these commercials are still around because we let them stay around.
#1. It's Time to Take Out the Internet Trash
If you're one of those people who mistakenly think that "free speech" means that you can say whatever you want whenever you want, you are who I'm talking about. Feel free to stop right here, because you won't allow yourself to consider what I'm about to say.
Racist, harassing, violent, abusive comments are so common on the 'Net, it's become an accepted part of the landscape. The dog turd that you step over on your way to the mailbox. We make jokes about them or quietly roll our eyes when we see some dumb fuck trying to get noticed by making rape comments on videos of teenage girls doing literally anything at all -- or dropping the N-bomb on pretty much any video that features a black person. On a more outspoken day, most of us will offer a sarcastic "Stay classy, Internet" before moving on and forgetting about them.
"I AM A METAPHOR!"
How We Can Make It Happen:
I'm going to use YouTube as an example because it's a site we're all pretty familiar with. Start by bookmarking this page. That's the form they use to report abusive commenters. Personally, I open it in a separate tab, because at one point you'll need to put in the user's ID and the URL of the video where they can find the comment, so it just makes it that much easier to copy and paste. From there, just follow the directions -- it's pretty simple.
I'm not just picking on YouTube, mind you. No matter where you find these glass-eyed cliches, the idea is the same: report them. Because the truth of the matter is that there are far, far more of us than there are of them. And if we finally put our foot down and say, "OK, that's enough. It's time for you to get the fuck out of our house," they cannot possibly fight the tsunami that we can unleash by simply reporting them en masse.
"I am also a metaphor! Splaaaaash!"
Why We Won't:
Let's use the same YouTube example. Did you notice that nowhere in those instructions was the phrase, "Click the 'report abuse' button"? That's because they -- and most other large sites that I've seen -- make it ridiculously hard to full-on report someone for bannable offenses. For instance, to even get to that page I asked you to bookmark, you have to know specifically what you're looking for. In this case, it's a link buried at the bottom of the page, under all the content and comments, where you normally find the site's copyright info and disclaimers:
Aaahhh, of course. It all looks so obvious in retrospect.
Oh, and it's called "Safety." Because when I need to report someone for racist comments or verbal harassment, the first thing I think is "I need to get to the safety page." They might as well have called it "The Pussy Lounge." On top of that, if I hadn't mentioned opening it in another tab or window, how many of you would have just started the form, assuming that the site would actually offer you some help? Since, you know, you were going the extra mile to keep their fucking site free of bigotry and hate speech? Because they don't actually ask you for the user ID or the video URL until you're about 3/4 of the way through it. Meaning that if you didn't remember exactly what video you just came from (so you could open another window and find it again), you'd have to page back through the form until you got back to the video, and then restart the process from scratch.
Maybe that's what they're going for? To force people into giving up? It certainly appears that way. And from a certain standpoint, I can see why. If you have that many users, making a form that difficult would curb the amount of people who would be prone to hitting the "report abuse" button every time someone even slightly pissed them off. Going through that much bullshit with their "safety" form means that you feel really, really strongly about reporting them.
Damn. Dude must have been one massive douche to make you scale our report page.
But even if given an easy, functional means of flagging an abusive user, in many cases our ego won't let us do it because our immediate reaction is to fight back. Even though we know for a fact that exchanging insults with someone who is looking for a flame war never fucking works. It really is a shame that we won't weed out these fucking pukes, though. I think it would be kind of awesome to see that army in action.