When I drove frequently, one of the most unpleasant experiences was seeing movement from the corner of your eye where movement shouldn’t be. It suggested, in an instant, something moving, rather close, maybe going to collide: a threat. If I do not check, then I risk failing to avoid a dangerous hazard, such as an accident in progress. Being alert to the unexpected movement, assessing it, avoiding it, has got me away from trouble more than once. The worse case was a pile–up just starting on the M25 in the rain; had I not reacted immediately, and correctly, I’ve have been in it. The second worse was a pile–up on an Austrian motorway in the snow that killed many people; I had to stop my car quickly in the snow to avoid becoming another after–smash incident, then get out of the way quickly of a too–fast juggernaut coming up behind (who did just manage to stop in time). The instinctive response to movement at the edge of vision where there shouldn’t be movement is life–saving and essential.

image: drone

But because I have to check, it means taking my attention away from the road at that moment. If the road, at that moment, also contained a hazard to be negotiated, then the risk of an accident became significant even if the threat is no such thing. That did happen to me once. I was driving at night, round an awkward bend. It significantly changed in sharpness part way round. As I was entering that bend once, which I had driven many times before, I saw some unexpected car lights off to my left, quite close, moving. There was no road there. I had to check, did so, but in consequence misjudged the bend, and hit a wall. The lights were new glass, a reflection where there had been no reflection before. The wall, it turns out, was frequently demolished; I was not the only victim of the road layout and the greenhouse.

The point here is that unexpected movement when I’m concentrating on something is instinctively unpleasant, even threatening. It’s not something to learn to ignore, it’s a response to preserve life. It signals threat, it signals tension, getting alert, changing your body state to fight or flight. To be put through it unnecessarily is nasty.

So you can probably understand why I detest out of place animations on computer screens. Unexpected movement where there should not be movement is a threat. Now, of course, on computer screens, this can be quite intentional and correct when chosen intentionally: they’re called computer games. They are designed to be there, part of the context: they’re the direct equivalent of driving, they’re quite often a threat, although the consequences of failing to take them into account is loss of ego rather than loss of wealth (or even life).

The problem is animation that contributes nothing, in a context where such things are wrong, in a context when I am not spending effort paying attention because no threat should be there. It’s the equivalent of the movement in the shadows at the back of the room when you’re alone in your own house.

image: drone

This is why I detest animated adverts. They are the monster in the shadows of the web. I consider deliberately causing someone such an unpleasant experience to be extremely rude.

Fortunately, at least one browser, Firefox, has features to block animated adverts. I realise that a good number of interesting websites raise revenue from adverts, so I don’t have to pay to see them. I have no problem at all with adverts that are not nasty, indeed I welcome them and have even bought products from them. If, however, advertisers insist of unpleasant arrogance by intruding animated adverts onto my day, well, they can sod off. They shouldn’t be so damned rude. I will happily use free sides supported by civilised adverts, I will not allow animated thugs to threaten me with violence.

The problem is those yobbos break the terms of the deal. The free site with adverts deal is a classic mutual backscratchers, a civilised arrangement that gives both sides what they need. But if one gets too greedy and attempts to do more than scratch, the arrangement breaks down. And that is the vandalism of the animation asbos; they don’t scratch, they draw blood. They can fuck off.

Unfortunately, these yobbos mean I have to block the technology used to show them, flash. I’ve written in the past how flash is used by a site to declare itself to be poor quality. That’s still the case, but times have moved on, clips from TV shows, movies, indeed many things, are now shown on the internet. But they’re shown in flash, so I don’t get to see them because of the advertising thugs. I don’t like being prevented from seeing things of mild interest because of the psychological violence of a bunch of uncivilised, selfish yobbos, but I can’t see a way round this one for now.