This morning I woke up before the man and the dog and decided to watch a video by one of the crochet bloggers I follow. Before the video played I had to sit through an ad, usually for something that’s easy to skip. This ad was different, catching my attention by highlighting digestive problems. I’ll spare you any specific reference to my digestive issue; suffice it to say that it’s exacerbated by travel. Gut health is the goal and sugar is digestive enemy #1, closely followed by processed foods and so-called health and diet foods. (Sorry if this ruins the 22 minute video for you).
I don’t know if these informational videos that lead inevitably to the purchase of a miracle pill are becoming more intellectual and science-based or if I’m becoming more gullible and stupider. Regardless, I listened to the whole thing and ended up purchasing the smallest, “satisfaction guaranteed or your money back” amount and having it sent to my brother’s house. That way I can start experiencing gut health while on this trip! Doesn’t that sound like a good deal? The truth is, a lot of the information shared by the lovely “doctor to the Hollywood stars” made sense. I already know sugar is addictive, leads to cravings, and makes you fat. I know this because I’m alive and living in the United States, where sugar is added to everything. Just like I know I don’t drink enough water and I know having a donut for breakfast is unhealthy. So why listen to this sales pitch? Because I am currently having that digestive problem!
After checking the sugar content of my yogurt (none, that’s why I add honey), I decided to finally watch the yarn video. Guess what popped up? An infomercial on arthritis, something else I’m experiencing more often (like every day). I let the video play as I started this blog and I’m delighted to tell you that, from the 3 minutes I listened to, it’s obvious that sugar is once again the culprit.
You probably think this piece is heading toward confessional yo-yo dieting anecdotes but it’s not. (It could but that’s another blog entirely.) What struck me as humorous is how my phone “knows” which ads to feature. Have you ever seen a Facebook ad for an item—say shoes—that you’ve been thinking about buying pop up on your newsfeed? I have and, at first I thought FB sold my information, including the year I was born (bastards) and that’s why comfort shoes, makeup tricks for women (way) over 40, and dresses that “make you look younger” were the featured ads on my feed. There was also an ad for adult diapers which really made me mad but, luckily, only appeared once. Well, FB probably did sell my information and so did the other mass market monopolies. Still, I don’t think that’s the extent of the surveillance. I think “they” are constantly monitoring us.
You may not realize it but your smart phone isn’t only smart for you. It’s basically a GPS system that’s automatically your “friend” and therefore privy to your location. My theory is that every conversation we have, every place we go, and every preference we express is somehow electronically saved, put into an algorithm, and immediately shared with the big three in my life (Apple, Google, and Amazon). That’s why Amazon can recommend products for me when I open my Amazon Prime app. It’s why I decided to switch to a Mac after 25 years of using a PC (a decision I regretted for most of 2020). It’s why my iPhone, iWatch, iBuds, iPad, and computer are networked and, in my opinion, working together to figure me out! One time Max and I were talking about those robot vacuums and if they really worked. Max mentioned that he really needed a hand vacuum for his car. We were sitting close to each other and both of us had our phones (of course). Within a day or two, Max started getting pop up ads for hand vacs and Amazon kept recommending different robot vacuums. and suggesting that hand vacs make nice gifts. I blame that one on Alexa. She’s in the kitchen and she’s nosy.
But think about it,“they” know where you are and are able to record anything you search. And how often do you ask Google for information? Every time you search the cast of a show you’re watching on Netflix or Prime or Apple, that information is absorbed by Google and Netflix, etc. and your preferences are noted. So let’s say you decide to search for airfares to Hawaii and you happen to be sitting in your family room in Redding, CA. That night your newsfeed on FB features moo-moos for the mature woman and several airlines start sending emails. The coup de gras comes when Apple offers a steep discount on iPads and the background of the ad is a beautiful, tropical island. Don’t be naive—this stuff happens. And I don’t care. There’s no point in worrying because it’s far too late to avoid being known by every algorithm on earth and maybe beyond. Sometimes I’m annoyed but many times I’m happy to be manipulated. After buying tickets to a Luke Bryan concert several years ago, both iTunes and Amazon music started suggesting other country artists, Stub Hub let me know when another, mainstream country music star would be appearing in venues within 200 miles of my location. I kid myself that I recognize the tactics and am therefore immune.
All of this makes me laugh when I think about the large number of conspiracy theorists in my community. Some people won’t get the Covid vaccine because (pick your favorite) it’s a live vaccine with evil intentions, you’re being microchipped, or it’s part of a government plot to take away your first and second amendment rights, not to mention your right to privacy. Well, here’s a newsflash, folks, you have no privacy, You handed that over years ago when you bought your first smart phone or googled something on a computer. And even if you don’t have any smart technology of your own, you better not stand or sit near anyone who does. Oh, yes, it’s that real.
Maybe you’re old enough to have memorized Christmas carols when you were a child, back when you believed in Santa. Do you remember that Santa “knows if you’ve been bad or good?” So when you think about it, this lack of privacy could be worse. At least Amazon isn’t evaluating our intentions and sending the goon squad to our homes. Yet.
I have been writing this on my Mac—a risk, I know. In a few minutes I will read this aloud to my husband because I always do. And this information will be noted and maybe used. I might even get put on the “bad list” in the event that Santa is a conspiracy theorist.