The most annoying manifestation of the non-sequiturd phenomenon must be that awful “Lower My Bills” ad that appears on otherwise reputable websites. The ad-box contains supposed “video footage” of a woman dancing in an office, badly. She seems to have no idea that her awkward gyrations are being taped until - in shock - she spots the camera. The image freezes on a close-up of her face caught in a horrified grimace. For some reason this ad sells mortages.
From this example, non-sequiturds may be defined as crappy ads that draw attention through their depictions of random imagery. Typically non-sequiturds integrate a sense of sexual titillation into their appeals, often in mildly disturbing ways. Another dimension of these ads: they would fool only the dimmest viewers. Thus one watches the ad thinking at a meta-level, “This ad is pointless, and it really sucks!” As such, non-sequiturds cut through the clutter of an exploding mediascape, inspiring critique by otherwise inattentive viewers. And garnering attention is the first step to garnering a sale.
I am told of the relative ease with which one may configure a web browser to avoid accepting ads from certain domains, supposedly banishing non-sequiturds to the land of wind and ghosts. But I fear that one death-click would simply seed the flowers of more egregious ads, resulting in an internet version of whack-a-mole. On principle (and just a bit of laziness), I won’t attempt a tech-fix.
I’d rather mock non-sequiturds when I see them, rebuking them with merciless laughter even though my response is meaningless. No matter how valiantly I rebuke these things, someone will click through. Someone will take the bait. Someone will smile at the random image of a dancing office worker and stare at her horrified freeze-frame and say, “Yes, Yes! I will take a second mortgage!” I shudder to imagine that this person will also drive a car and may even vote.
So I am stuck with a weary smile and bemused acceptance of things I can scarcely control: “Ah, joy. Another non-sequiturd.”
Incidentally I claim no origination of the word “non-sequiturd.” A google search reveals some other appearances of the term (though some may merely be misspellings). Either way, I will joyfully weave “non-sequiturd” into my occasional media critiques, gaining small pleasure in the rhetorical spit that drips from the name. Ah…Non-sequiturds: I feel better already.
Want to vent about a non-sequiturd you’ve seen? Leave a comment.