Advertising is targeted — it’s really obvious if you pay any attention at all to the ads that show up in the sidebar of a google account or a Facebook page or have every bought anything from Amazon and get on their mailing lists. Some of our other utilities try to figure out what we will like – It seems that Tivo will try to figure out by the shows you record what it thinks you might like to watch and can record things for you. It seems that programs — just like people — can draw some very odd conclusions.
There’s a story about a guy who had a Tivo that thought he was gay. When he tried to make it change its mind, by recording lots of war movies (“guy stuff”) it decided he was a crazy who wanted to see everything about Nazi bigwigs. I have ordered books from Amazon so I get email because they want to sell me everything Mary Daley and Sue Monk Kidd have every written… and watches, fancy lotions and camera equipment. Facebook sure seems to think I want desparately to lose weight and get rid wrinkles while studying photography. And just this morning, as I read my email from The Daily Gospel I found ads for The American Monk (Accelerate your spiritual growth…), Speaking in tongues today, Dr. Oz’s Real Age Test (???) and the Gnostic Bookstore. But, the ones that intrigued me the most were the learn more about the Easter Bunny and Kindergarten Sightwords.
Kind of scary, huh? I find it to be a warning to me. As one human in a community of humans, I hope that I do better at seeing the whole, real person underneath these external expressions. But, I probably don’t. We all make two mistakes — we observe through the particular focus of our own eyes, and we so often see only the things that we are keyed in to see (keyword searching, anyone?). It might be all I CAN do — so just be aware: I’m only slightly better at judging you than Google Adsense… and therefore I shall attempt to leave that judgement to God.