Periodical Freedom

I picked up an issue of Vanity Fair from the magazine stand over the weekend. It felt a little unusual to read.

I thought it was because I had to ignore a reactive urge to click on unknown words to learn their definition. A luxury of modern electronic devices that has inculcated my reading experience. That, however, was too obvious. There was something else. Something subtle and elusive that tugged at my reading sensibilities. I forged ahead perusing article after article to get to the bottom of the peculiar sensation.

When at last I put the magazine down I felt positively fabulous. Like I had taken a mini trip someplace and come back home refreshed. That's when it hit me.

The relentless violations of my online privacy have had a deleterious subconscious effect on the enjoyment of reading on the web. Visiting Vanity Fair's web site, the little number next to my browser's ad blocker icon soars telling me that everything I do on that page is monitored.

Ironically, in spite of their hyena like aggressiveness, I am totally blind to online ads. The full page magazine ads, on the other hand, are almost enjoyable. Their highly produced quality gives them an aesthetic allure.

Paradoxically the online surveilling actions of the publishers, social networks, etcetera, have potentially created a renaissance market for the medium they set out to replace. There is a real sense of liberty in reading a magazine without feeling like a smarmy ad executive is looking over my shoulder.