Salary Survey Extra: Cleaning up the internet

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The internet doesn't technically have a maid, but it could sure use some cleaning.Most of us can’t live — or work — without the internet. But sometimes the internet doesn’t make itself very easy to live, or work, with. The problem is manyfold, which can also be written as “manifold,” even though “manyfold” cannot be substituted for manifold when discussing internal combustion engines. The English language is weird.

As we were saying, there are a lot of different reasons (manyfold) to become frustrated or peevish or possibly even blow one’s stack (manifold) when using the internet — or at least trying to use the internet — for one of its numerous (manyfold/manifold) work-related purposes. With its innumerable pop-ups, streaming video players, flashing GIFs, and more, the internet practically begs you to not get anything done.

Setting work aside, many individuals are perhaps even more frustrated by the intrusive gewgaws and distracting gimcrackery when they want to just stream a show, or make a purchase, or check out a favorite website. Sometimes it’s even more insidious: How often has a quick check of your favorite social media site turned into a 90-minute stumble down this or that rabbit hole?

We know it. You know it. The internet is a mess. So for one of the optional extra questions at the end of our 2021 Salary Survey, we essentially handed survey respondents a magic wand and offered a tantalizing proposition. You have the power to make one thing on the internet disappear forever. What’s it gonna be? What in other words is everyone’s least favorite thing about the thing that we all can’t separate ourselves from.

It’s fairly clear that most people would like someone with sheriff-like powers to do some cleaning up around this town. But what should be cleaned up first? There’s not as much agreement as you might think. Here’s what we learned:

Q: If I could remove one annoying thing from the internet, then I would get rid of all the: 

Fake news — 31.5 percent
Pop-up ads — 23 percent
How come I can only remove one thing? You’re killing me, Smalls! — 21.4 percent
Social media platforms — 14.1 percent
Auto-streaming video players — 5 percent
Pop-up privacy notifications — 2.7 percent
GIF Memes — 1 percent
Memes — 0.7 percent
Real news — 0.4 percent
GIFs — 0.3 percent

It’s clear that a hefty chunk of those surveyed have grown frustrated with the propensity of the internet to spawn fake news. We didn’t delineate that term precisely, so it’s possible that some respondents are aching to banish actual fake news, while others would like to remove news that is fake in the Trump-ian sense of “I don’t like those facts” or “That news hurt my feelings.”

The has always been bad information and false or misleading data online. The “fake news” aspect of internet life that is named and described as such, however, is a relatively recent development. So people have hit a limit of zero tolerance for this particular variety of digital white noise in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Pop-up ads are perhaps the longest-lived of the multiple phenomena we listed here, so it’s no surprise that they rated highly — there’s been a lot of time for familiarity to breed contempt. Pop-up privacy notifications are a far more recent invention, and are actually ostensibly to the good of the average surfer, so only a handful rated those as being their chiefest annoyance.

A notable chunk of respondents took us to task for only allowing them to magic away a single thing, which we had suspected would be the case. It’s also not surprising that, for all of their various (debatable) benefits, social media platforms attracted a high degree of the collateral ire generated by time spent using the internet.

The relative recency of auto-streaming video players, which start to play as soon as you load a particular page, may have tempered their sky-high degree of peeve power. And finally, it looks like most people are happy to live with GIFs, memes, and GIFs that are memes, as well as with the potentially intimidating preponderance of actual real news.

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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