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Inquiring minds really don’t want to know…

May 11, 2015

…about everything related to what they see, hear, or search.

In just thirty years our collective lives are no longer our own, and we did it to ourselves. We gave our whole being to a machine, or rather to the people that make them.

The internet is a wonderful place to search for almost anything, probably up to and including your neighbor’s bra size, if that’s what you think you need to know. Believe me, at some point, she’s probably put it out on the ‘net.

In case you haven’t noticed, there is no longer any right to or expectation of privacy in the post-www-dot era, and we can’t blame the NSA for that.

Unfortunately it didn’t take marketers, and sellers of advertising space long to figure out that if you like something, maybe they can sell you something sort of like it.

Take the app that decides to show you an ad just because you stopped to look at your grocery list in front of a product. You thought the app was so you could download coupons, but it’s really just a sneaky way to plant a product into your brain.

Just because six months ago you bought a package of designer diapers for a baby shower, the internet now thinks you have kids, so they serve you up ads for diapers at every opportunity.

Don’t you just love the algorithms that only show you news stories similar to ones you’ve looked at recently?  Maybe you only clicked on them because you were writing a term paper, but you are now solidly pigeonholed by your random searches.

How about the pop-up that appears for a male enhancement product that shows up because you recently searched for an “two-inch extender”…for the 18-inch necklace chain you just bought.

Researchers, reporters and writers have a particularly strong dislike for this electronic junk mail, since they tend to search for a lot of terms or products that they personally have no interest in whatsoever.

Since the government funds studies on everything else in the world, why hasn’t there been a study on how much time is wasted clicking “Close this window” to dismiss that crap?

Or one on how much it adds to the unnecessary stress of one’s daily life? No wonder the market for OTC stress relievers is gigantic.

What about the junk ads dropped into your inbox that you can’t escape, no matter how you set up your preferences? Actually, I don’t want to learn Chinese. Do you?

Presumably someone is actually paying the search engines to serve up that stuff. Please, save your money.

Americans today often report feeling more stressed than ever before, but in their desperate, pathetic desire to stay “connected” to some imaginary circle of faceless followers, they don’t or can’t do the one thing that would relieve some of that stress.

Turn off the machines for just two hours. Leave them at home and go for walk and see and smell real flowers. Say hello to a real person. Touch a real tree. Pet a live kitten. Do anything, as long as it’s real.

Make a hand-written (assuming you still know how to write) grocery list and leave your life tracker, er, phone in the car. Buy a watch that horror of horrors, only tells time. If you think your 8 year old has to have a phone, get one that just makes and receives calls. If the kid needs a game, buy him one he has to touch to play with, and spend some time actually playing with him.

Life really doesn’t have to be as hard on us as we allow the internet to make it. Yes, it’s a wonderful tool for some things, but never forget that really is just a tool. The question is, for whom?

Missing your weekly dose of political commentary? It  will return from hiatus after this brief rant.

From → op-ed

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