DO IRRELEVANT IMAGES DISTRACT FROM THE MESSAGE?

…the juxtaposition of serious content with irrelevant (and often sexy) images desensitizes us.

Vaccines for viruses such as polio and smallpox must be custom-made, but the principles are the same: if your body is exposed to a very weak or small amount of the disease virus, it will produce antibodies, chemicals to resist and kill the virus. Then when a full-strength version of the disease virus comes along, your body is prepared to fight it.*

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For years now I’ve been intrigued with how exposure to one thing—like a small amount of a virus—makes us immune to a bigger problem. Badly phrased, I know, but here’s where I’m going with this:

Take, for example, the now-ubiquitous “f” word. It seems to have all the strength of  “darn it anyway.” So now that we no longer have a word the express undiluted fury, it seems to me that physical attack is all that’s left.

I hope that makes sense because I want to take this concept of how small doses lead to immunity one step further, to the subject that’s really behind my grievance, and that is the placement of ads in the middle of on-line news pieces.

Example: I recently read a credible on-line news piece about the plight of Syrian refugees. Well-placed photographs accompanied the article, but so did full-color ads for lingerie, shoes, and bikinis.

skaters.jpgI hate to think that the juxtaposition of serious content with irrelevant (and often sexy) images desensitizes us but I fear it’s true.  Ad agencies that write commercials for medicines use this ploy all the time. The purpose of those happy smiley people running on a beach is to distract the viewer from possible side effects that are listed via voice over.

An argument could be made that readers of on-line news articles simply ignore the ads. But the growing tendency for such ad placement argues otherwise.

Now I know that there ain’t nuthin’ for free so I’m not arguing for eliminating the ads. But really,  folks, couldn’t they be better placed? Even Facebook knows enough to stack ‘em on a side bar.

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(Did irrelevant images of my paintings distract you? If so, I’ve proved my point.)

*Source: PBS.org