What To Do With The X In The Corner

What To Do With The X In The Corner by @barbaradelinsky #corner #writing #research

Do you search the web for bits of information? I’m constantly doing it for work. Take today.

One of my characters had too much to drink last night and woke up with a hangover. What to do? I’ve never been hungover myself. I’ve been tipsy, and know what that’s like, like I’m not in full command of my body or mind. Control freak that I am, I’ve never wanted to go any farther in that direction. So I don’t know what my character was experiencing and needed information on what she felt, e.g., I needed to know the symptoms and cures.

Google was happy to tell me where to go for answers, offering multiple sites and multiple lists. I tried the best known and most reliable sources first – and invariably, after reading the first paragraph of a piece, was stopped by a pop-up asking if I wanted to subscribe to a newsletter. No, I did not. I just wanted to continue reading. So I looked for the little X in the corner to close the popup.

It wasn’t easy to find. It was pale, often just a shadowy letter, maybe even tiny, in a corner that was nearly the same color as the X, making it harder to see. No doubt, this is intentional.

And I get it. My own website has a pop-up asking the visitor to join my mailing list. The difference is that a simple click on the page you were visiting erases the pop-up.

Wait, Which Corner?

Having to search for the X in the corner is something else. It happens all the time when I’m playing Sudoku on my phone and, before, after, and between games, an ad appears. I know that this is the price to pay for using the free version of the app. But finding the X to close it out is nearly as much of a game as the game itself – the new Where’s Waldo, euphemistically speaking.

Sometimes it’s in the upper right corner, sometimes in the upper left corner. Sometimes it doesn’t appear until a scroller counts out ten, fifteen, even twenty seconds. Since the ad is always for another game, the X may be embedded in a forest of trees, a mountain of gold, or a muddy bog. You do have to search.What To Do With The X In The Corner by @barbaradelinsky #corner #writing #research

And what if there’s no X at all? This happens sometimes. Another example from my work? Prior to my character getting drunk, she was sitting at a bar, ordering off the menu there that included avocado bites. At least, that’s what I called them. But I needed to find out the ingredients because at least one of you will ask for a recipe if avocado bites make it into the final version of the book.

Google offered recipe options. I sampled several. One or two were blocked by a pop-up that wouldn’t go away. If I didn’t sign onto a mailing list, they wouldn’t cough up the recipe.

Fine. Good. I left the site without and simply went to another.

It’s the cost of doing business. But boy, can it be annoying. That said, annoying is a state of mind.  So yes, I’m taking that hidden X in the corner as a challenge. When I finally find it, I feel that little bit of victory.

Take that, X.


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