Since 2000, 2001 I have been using the internet. At first the internet was amazing and opened a new dimension for me.
As I learned more and social media became increasingly intrusive I learned some valuable lessons. For instance when MSN and Hotmail keept annoying me I moved to Gmail. Internet Explorer limited me so I choose for Google’s clean and versatile start page. Also social media websites became more of a nuisance thus whenever I was fed up I closed the account. Facebook is still pleasant enough to use.
One thing that repeatedly got on my nerves was advertising emphasising the unique selling point “free”. Sometimes that meant signing up and making an account. Sometimes “free” meant you were lured into an access point full of spam and advertising thus one click could haunt your mailbox.
Social media websites were the worst sometimes. “Make a free account! Give up your personal details and we offer your privacy to marketers and advertisers online. Fuck you if you complain, you were stupid enough to believe us.” Facebook has similar tendencies but my social contacts keep me there.
My biggest gripe is even simpler than everything I described above. To describe something as “free” is to say something is free of everything associated with the particular action involved. Think of giving, receiving or doing whatever comes to mind.
How can something be “free” when an action still has to be realised? In my view nothing in life is free. Everything requires action and effort of some sorts. To state something is “free” for me sounds as lazy thinking. The only way I can personally tolerate the use of the word “free” is when I say “feel free to .. “ because then I make myself available. Otherwise I say “my treat” or “it is a gift”.
Recently on a poster in the bus stop in Amsterdam I saw a Vodafone advertisement emphasising how 4g gives you freedom. I cynically hope the abuse of the word “freedom” stops there. I live in a country where every 5th of May we are supposed to “feel free(dom)” when the only thing we really commemorate is how we are no longer occupied by Nazi Germany. I like living in the Dutch Netherlands but do not attempt to ram a feeling of freedom down my throat. The Netherlands are now occupied by the EU and Europe. I am not free, I am a Dutch and European citizen…