Salary Survey Extra: Let’s fix the internet
Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
Ah, the internet. Is it a soul-killing hellscape, or a dream-fulfilling utopia? Both? Neither? One thing we know for certain is that most certified IT professionals — and, indeed, most people of all ages, and from all walks of life — spend a lot of time interfacing in one way or another with what could fairly be described, for good or ill, as the eighth wonder of the world.
This has been especially true over the past 12 months, as kids and teens have been relocated, some multiple times, from in-person schoolrooms to online video-conferencing rooms. It’s been been the same for many adults, some of whom have now spent close to an entire year with the internet functioning as their only point of connection to clients, coworkers, and prospective customers.
Even before it became the de facto center of the universe, however, the internet had an outsized claim on the time and attention of most of us, to the point that well before 2020 rubbed our collective noses in the online-ness of everything, there had been plenty of time for familiarity to breed contempt. Everyone has a favorite gripe (or two, or three) about the internet.
As noted above, that includes most certified IT professionals, many of whom would directly rely on the internet for work even without a pandemic slamming the door on other means of interaction. So we felt comfortable enumerating a handful of the most bitterly denounced shortcomings of the online realm and putting a magic wand in the hand of Salary Survey respondents.
The question we asked is what each survey respondent would do if they could remove one (and only one) perpetual annoyance from the internet. This question was slipped into the Not So Serious sampler at the end of the survey, so the tenor of our selection of answers is a tiny bit cheeky, but we think our rogue’s gallery of answer options really did (and does) pinpoint some key frustrations.
Here’s what we learned:
Q: If I could remove one annoying thing from the internet, then I would get rid of all the:
Social media platforms — 14.1 percent
Memes — 0.7 percent
GIFs — 0.3 percent
GIF Memes — 1.0 percent
Auto-streaming video players — 5.0 percent
Pop-up ads — 23.0 percent
Pop-up privacy notifications — 2.7 percent
Fake news — 31.5 percent
Real news — 0.4 percent
How come I can only remove one thing? You’re killing me, Smalls! — 21.4
It would appear that, far beyond the scope and impact of its more petty grievances, the capacity of the internet to harbor and spread misinformation — or, on an even more sinister note, disinformation — is what drives Salary Survey respondents craziest about our collective home away from home. If the truth shall make you free (as both Jesus and the CIA attest), then the internet is keeping us enslaved.
Most internet users accept that online advertising is the not-so-hidden cost of keeping the internet largely free and at least somewhat democratized. Pop-up ads, on the other hand — all but a tiny trickle of which don’t even open new browser windows any more — are still (and probably ever will be) a bridge too far in the minds of more than one in five survey respondents.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the next largest group of survey respondents took us to task for not making their magic wand powerful enough. Between those who want to vacuum a legion of falsehoods out of the internet, those who want to suck up a legion of product placements, and those who want a stronger vacuum altogether, we captured a bit more than three-fourths of all survey respondents.
Social media has been both a feature and a bug since its arrival, and the ilk of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., represents the fourth horseman of the internet apocalypse. Or maybe it’s the third major grievance, since being mad at the crack Not So Serious team for limiting the scope of survey respondents’ magical powers isn’t really a bone to pick with the internet per se.
Now all we need is a second magic wand to tell us which news is real. Yikes, of course we’re kidding. (Probably.)