There’s an episode in the British futuristic, dystopian TV series Black Mirror, where people have to exercise to generate electricity and then get to enjoy the ‘merits’ they earn by consuming media.
I feel like that when I’m on YouTube, thanks to YouTube’s advertising policies, easily the worst aspect of Google’s earth-encompassing services. You can’t really get rid of YouTube Ads. Yes, I’ve heard the suggestions – AdBlocker, using a proxy/VPN/Aadhar Card – but there’s really no way out of them.
I had tried all the ghar ke nuskey – only to finally chuck them altogether. There was really no point, and I’d accepted that there will always be annoying ads before I watch a video of my choice.
Till last week.
I got myself a new laptop – HP Omen i7 because people invariably ask me what model it is – and was installing all the prerequisite apps on it.
I have shifted from Google Chrome to Opera Browser and when I was setting up the browser on my new system, it asked me to choose my Language Settings. I chose English – UK as my default language. The only problem? I was too stoned to realise that I’d chosen ‘Uk’ – ‘Ukraine’. The fine ladies and gentlemen working in Opera and Google took my word for it and since then, I’ve been flooded with ads from Ukraine!
At first, the ads were simply bizzarre. I thought it was a bug in the system, and that it was a one-time occurence. But the ads kept coming, and it took me a few days to realise what had happened.
I began to weave fantastical accounts of life in Ukraine. There were ads for children’s toys that showed a couple humping each other. The ad for an apple juice brand consisted of a zoom-in shot of a sweaty cleavage for ten seconds.
After the first few days, I began to enjoy the ads. They were a welcome change from the clingy Indian ads that beg you not to ‘Skip Ad’. Now, I look forward to seeing ads from Ukraine before my video plays on. It’s like a free upgrade on a service I didn’t even order in the first place.
My curiosity led me to look up the country, and I found a number of mildly interesting facts. Like Ukraine has one of the oldest constitutions in the world. I also learnt that the nation is obsessed with booze and IT – a trait I could connect to as a foster Hyderabadi. I also learnt that Ukrainian women are considered the prettiest in the world, and *surprise surprise* there’s a place called Odessa that houses the prettiest people in the whole world.
I was clearly born in the wrong Odessa, for Odisha has no such history. We are a state that loves to cook food and eat food and sleep in the afternoon for a couple of hours. That’s literally every Odiya person, ever.
I might not have really ‘solved’ the YouTube problem – that might be stretching it. What I managed to do, however, was inadvertently shake off YouTube’s powerful analytics and personalisation tools.
Now, before looking for a YouTube video, I look at the ads that are being shown to me. I haven’t skipped an ad in weeks now, and gleefully watch every single ad that I’m shown. As we speak, I’m being shown an ad for a watch where a young couple (dressed in swimsuits, of course!) meet inside a swimming pool and say something to each other, softly.
I think when India becomes intolerable – as I’m sure it will; considering Aamir Khan has said it would. Aamir Khan can predict the future. During the promotions of Lagaan, he’d said ‘Yeh picture chalegi’, and the film did work. So there!).
So once India becomes too intolerable to live, I will move to Odessa in Ukraine.
And take a walk through their supermarkets too see where the steroids are stocked.