"I prefer to pay full price." "No! I love being poor!" "I don't like to try new recipes." "No thanks, I prefer to be miserable in the morning."
These are the self-descriptions you must embrace if you refuse to give out your email address to various websites online.
These messages are a handful of the many collected by "Confirmshaming" and The Cruelest Opt-Out, two Tumblrs devoted to dutifully tracking an odious trend in pop-up windows. Websites ask visitors to sign up for a newsletter, or accept a coupon, or seize an opportunity of some kind, and frame the alternative as a grave, shameful choice.
You see it all over the web, but, judging from the Tumblrs, it's most prevalent among media outlets and online stores.
“I think it’s partly that internet advertising is such a shitshow,” confirmshaming’s creator, Dan Bruno, told Motherboard. “People need to do whatever they can to get users to pay attention to their ads.”
Cruelest Opt-Outs had been tracking the practice since January 2015. Bruno started tracking it in March and gave it a name: "confirm shaming." Its first example came from a frequent offender, Esquire.
Since then, the hits just keep on coming.
Some of the horrible alternatives on which you must click are mildly amusing. But like most advertising, it's ultimately designed to make you feel insufficient until you subscribe to or buy or [insert verb here] whatever is being proffered.
It's yet another gambit by companies to do anything they can to cut through the noise of online advertising. Once in a while these are okay, but it's a passive aggressive strategy that can leave a bad taste in the mouth of someone forced to click on the "I'm a terrible, boring, masochistic person who hates being alive" option.
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org