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Exxon Telescreens


The really top-drawer dystopian novels end up like news accounts that got published a couple of decades before the events they describe.

Orwell's 1984 came to mid the other day as I rolled up to a pump at an Exxon station and found myself being pestered by a TeeVee built into the gas pump. It came to life – loudly – as soon as I fed my credit card into the reader. Pushy sales pitches masquerading – as online – as "content," the euphemism for ads from which you will "learn" more as opposed to merely being the object of a sales pitch.

Is there any escape from perpetual peddlering? How long before someone figures out how to embed a tiny flatscreen on the side of a Starbucks coffee cup?

It's not two-way, I don't think.


But like Orwell's Telescreens, you can't turn it off or even turn it down – unless you are an Inner Party member, I suppose – and the only way to get away is to stop pumping and flee. I did exactly that.  I put in the bare minimum $5 and took off.  Luckily, there are still some old-timey stations that just pump gas and not ads, too.

Speaking of which – how about Yahoo?

They are doing the electronic-funnel-in-your-mouth thing, too. If you empty your email (in-box, spam, trash) a got-damned video begins to play. You did not ask – or click. It just does. And turning it off is hard. Some bastard arranged the software such that you have to click double-plus-twice before the damnable "message" cues off.

This has also become SOP on CNN's site.

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