My Life Should Not Be An Open Book!
We are moving rapidly into a world in which the spying machinery is built into every object we encounter.
There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. Eventually, it will be ‘My phone is spying on me’.
Philip K. Dick
There’s a lot of talk in Canada about the government’s proposed anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51. About half the country is concerned that the legislation will give law enforcement and by extension, the government increased powers to spy on citizens. About 40% support it and the remaining 10% have never heard of it or just don’t give a rat’s ass.
I share the concern about the legislation but not so much because I believe our government is turning into a bunch of fascists – the fascists of old were better organized and more efficient. My concern is that it is just one more invasion of our privacy in a world where so many are spying on us now, it’s a wonder they aren’t tripping over each other.
Christ in Heaven, I can’t go to the bathroom without Google popping up ads for toilet paper on the margins of my screen when I get back to my computer. It’s bad enough that they knew I went to the bathroom but how did they know I did #2 and not #1?
You can’t go anywhere online anymore without being tracked and monitored. I routinely clean my computer of spyware every couple of days and the amount of tracking cookies and other tracking software that my anti-malware software finds and deletes in unbelievable. The worst offender is Google. The guys at the Big G know where I am and what I’m looking at instantly.
For a lark, I typed in my home address on Google Maps last year and up came a photograph of me on my lawn tractor.
Excuse me? If government did that to us, we’d be marching in the street but – hey – it’s Google and online, Google is omnipotent.
But here’s the thing. Not all of us are titillated by the fact that the Big G made us into a momentary Internet star by posting our photograph in front of our homes or on a street corner. If I take a photograph of someone and want to post it online, I have to get a model release signed so how does Google get away with it or more accurately; why do we permit it?
I recently purchased a couple of Speedlight flashes for my camera. I made the purchase online and got a heck of a good deal but now, no matter where I go: a news site, my email, Facebook or Twitter, there are ads for various camera flashes including the ones I just purchased.
Last month, it was lenses because I had purchased a new telephoto lens.
I did a search on eBay for something I was thinking of getting for my daughter. I didn’t find what I wanted and didn’t buy anything but I’m still getting ads when I browse offering me a second chance at it. Last year when I was looking for new copper cookware, I was drowning in ads for pots and pans. I now know more about Cuisinart, Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray cookware than I do about stupidity and I’ve been surrounded by stupidity for a very, very long time.
Here’s another thing I don’t fully understand.
Google tracks me constantly and collects endless amounts of data that they then use to bombard me with ads for whatever I was originally looking for but they don’t seem to be able to find anything when I type in a search query.
I hate doing searches online. No matter what I type, I get back millions of options many of which seldom have much to do with what I’m trying to find or are three years out of date. Of course, that changes once I start buying stuff; then Google becomes highly efficient and has no difficulty pinpointing and advertising to me what I just purchased.
Talk about a day late and a dollar short. Typically, it’s about a day after I’ve already made the purchase.
As unforgiving as we are when government collects information about us, we are very complacent about being tracked by Google and all the other online, faceless entities that follow us around like a dog hoping we’ll drop some of whatever it is we’re eating.
Marketing espionage has become so pervasive in our technology these days that Samsung was caught incorporating technology into televisions that could actually record our conversations surreptitiously. It’s as if former members of East Germany’s Stassi (secret police) had all become marketing consultants.
In Canada, the Conservative government eliminated mandatory completion of the long-form census because some Canadians felt it was intrusive and an invasion of their privacy. Good Lord! The banal anonymous data collected by Statistics Canada pales in comparison to what the online companies are doing and at least Stats Can doesn’t follow you home and peek at you over the hedge.
The Prime Minister once suggested his home province (Alberta) should put up a firewall to keep out the rest of Canada. He’d better serve all of us, including Alberta, if he put up a firewall to keep Google from knowing when we went to the bathroom.
And then there are the pop-ups…sigh!
I have become so impatient with websites that immediately bombard you with popups begging you to like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and/or subscribe by providing an email address that I usually just close the window rather than continuing further. For me it’s synonymous with going to the store and as soon as you walk in, some sales person pops up from behind the broccoli in the produce section to invite you to join the rewards program. Of course, they do it at the cash too but I deal with that by glaring at the cashier which tends to abruptly stop the sales pitch and get things moving along. A couple of times, I’ve been given an ovation by the folks behind me who had been in line so long, they had started to eat some of what they were buying.
A site I landed on yesterday had a pop up that wouldn’t let you access the material unless you liked them on Facebook. I declined. I didn’t see why I would like them on Facebook when I already didn’t like them on their own website.
Other sites have auto start on video ads. Often those ads are difficult to locate because there’s so much junk on the page. This results in hearing a disconnected voice blither blathering about something or other over top of the video you’re trying to watch. You scroll around the page trying to find it and usually, by the time you do, it’s reached the end – and so has the video you were originally trying to watch.
If I go to a specific website, it is because I’m interested in what they might offer. Give me some time to browse. If I find what they offer of interest then I bookmark the site and go back. I might even make a purchase. What I don’t need is to be hounded like I have the attention span of a three year old in an Ikea ball room or Toys R Us.
I was in marketing for 35 years and customers develop promotion fatigue pretty quickly. One of things the online experts have never learned is that the first words out of an in-store customer’s mouth when approached by a sales person offering to help are: “No thanks, I’m just looking.”
That’s the attitude I take to most websites now and when I get a barrage of popups and invites to like, share, follow, fill out a survey or join I just click the little X up in the top right-hand corner of my screen.
“No thanks, I was just looking – bye, bye.”
The reality is that companies like Google, and all the lesser lights imitating some of Google’s online marketing techniques, don’t do it because they should; they do it because they can. They are so caught up in the technology that they think it makes them clever. They’re like people who are constantly upgrading their smart phones to do exactly what their old smart phone already did. They’ve put their faith in technology and in the process they’ve lost sight of the customer. To them, we’re just sheep which is pretty much the same way that our governments see us. The fact that many of us act like sheep only encourages that attitude further.
I don’t want my government spying on me but the only saving grace is that government tends to be so incompetent that I am confident they will never be as efficient at it as Google. Whenever I become overly concerned about government spy agencies invading my privacy, I remind myself that Google spies on them too. . .as do the Chinese but that’s for another post.
The real issue for me is online invasion of privacy. We weren’t put on God’s green earth to be tracked, monitored and manipulated so that the online millionaire whiz kids could become even wealthier.
I don’t know about you but honestly, I’m just tired of my life and my surfing habits being the centre of every web site’s attention. I’m tired of being constantly bombarded with ads, invitations to fill out customer satisfaction surveys, like, share and join pop ups. It wastes my time and clutters up my browser cache.
I have a message for companies like Google and all the websites that track us, spy on us and treat our time like it is theirs to use as part of their marketing effort.
Give it a rest. My life is not an open book provided only for your marketing efforts. If the only way you can make money online is to be as annoying as possible take up another line of work. Try whittling, for example, and then selling your crafts at the Fair but for God’s sake – leave me alone.
© 2015 Maggie’s Bear
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