Who is Tracking Me?
A famous quote about the internet is “If a service is free, the product is you”. this applies from social media to news sites to free antivirus. Silicon Valley is built on advertising money, and they make their money by targeting advertisements. The more targeted, the more money they can charge. It isn't always advertisements though. Anything can be turned into a dataset from pictures of your face, your conversations, any behavioral feature, or things like what you buy and what malware you download.
You probably have heard of cookies, but if you want a little bit more information,here's a link. If I had to guess, you probably have also heard you should be running an ad-blocker. If you still aren't and need some more convincing, check out this article: <https://lifehacker.com/5649025/why-you-should-use-adblock-plus-even-if-you-dont-block-ads >
If you want to see what is tracking you right now on various sites, install the Ghostery extension. It's a pretty cool visual, and you can manually update permissions, however, it isn't a full adblocker.
Your second task, if you do not already have one installed, is to install an ad-blocking extension. Ad-blockers do what they say they do, making your web experience more visually attractive and faster, but also block trackers and lessen the chance of getting malware-laden ads. For Chrome, I recommend uBlock Origin. I don't use Firefox, but it has an ad-blocker built-in which makes it one of the best choices for the privacy and security conscious. I also recommend installing Chrome and ad-blockers (or Firefox) on as many computers of friends and family that you do tech support for. Again, if you don't want to do this now, skip it.
So now you've got adblockers installed, you're good right?
Check out what someone can learn about you just from you visiting a website. http://www.whatsmyip.org/more-info-about-you/
I don't care much for VPNs because I don't care about ad tracking and I'm not in a country where I worry about my internet browsing being monitored and getting taken away by the secret police. You don't need a VPN for security no matter how many people are taking marketing money to sell them (use my code "youdontneedavpn" for 100% off). As long as you are using HTTPS sites and not clicking through bad certificates, you shouldn't have to worry about getting your credit card or passwords stolen no matter how sketchy the public wifi you're on is. If you reeeally want one for privacy, I trust Nord VPN and use them when I'm in countries that annoy me by blocking random parts of the internet.
Okay, so now you're behind a VPN and you have ad-block on. You're good now, right?
Well, check out how well you can be uniquely fingerprinted just based on your browser. The EFF are the good guys, so they made this site to raise awareness. https://panopticlick.eff.org/tracker
What's the answer here, other than that it is very hard not to be tracked on the internet?
Keep building awareness, raising your level of security, keep your online personas compartmentalized, and know that the internet is probably not out to get you specifically.