Where’s Internet privacy when you need it? Forget about snoops grabbing my credit card numbers or reading my e-mails. What I want to keep secret – even from myself – is what my online activity reveals about the “real me.”
Yes, I’ve done some bad things. I have purchased books recommended by Oprah. Twice. Not to mention that little matter of Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul. Honestly! I swear I’m not that kind of person!
Exposed. What if my family – or worse people who might respect me – find out what I’ve done on the Internet? What was I thinking?
I knew this sort of behavior could be tracked, but you know how it is. You’re alone, the lights are dim, you’ve had some wine. You can’t help yourself. Without ample forethought, or any regard for personal safety, you order a boxed set of Barry Manilow’s greatest hits. Hey, he writes the songs that make the whole world sing!
Just for you. Do you know how painful it is to log onto Amazon.com in the harsh glare of morning’s light and have that perky recommendations box pop up with suggestions tailored specifically to my tastes suggest, with a straight screen face, that I would really enjoy the new Kathie Lee Gifford CD?
Look, you wiseacres at Amazon.com, I don’t want to know what other people who enjoy the greatest hits of elevator Muzak also enjoyed. I’m different from them. I ordered one CD, that’s it. This doesn’t mean I have a “problem.” I can quit soft pop rock anytime.
Tracked. As if the Internet weren’t judgmental enough, televisions have gotten into the tracking act. Seemingly innocent recording devices can monitor what you watch and suggest other shows you may like.
Think of this as the little black box of your own natural viewing disasters. More succinctly, I’ve spent years sneaking Beverly Hills 90210 and Fresh Prince of BelAir reruns on the sly and now the boob tube’s going to rat me out.
How am I going to maintain my cool as a watcher of PBS documentaries and CNN alone, when the “smart TV” (make that smart-aleck TV) steers me toward The OC and Full House?
The only recourse as I see it is to buy a cheap TV and set it up in the where it will spend 24 hours a day watching C-SPAN, thereby offsetting any MTV or True Hollywood Story viewing I happen to engage in. Take that, TiVo!
Click on this. I will program my computer to randomly log on to sites such as bilingual.com and mit.edu while I sleep (or better yet, let them put me there). This should nicely balance any visits I might make to celebritygossip.com or all_brad_and_angelina_all_the_time.com.
As for Amazon.com, I’m going to order only esoteric and/or classic novels to be sent to my home. Let that autobot marketing tool try to crack the essence of me from my cagey purchases of such literary heavyweights as Profiles in Courage or For Whom the Bell Tolls. Ha!
Meanwhile, an online alias will be established to order my real purchases – the disco compilations, the trashy romance novels and other “beach” reading and endless subscriptions to my scrapbooking magazines – and have them delivered to an untraceable P.O. box offsite.
Before too long the marketers of America won’t know the real Kymberly (or her spending habits) at all. Am I the Kymberly who might attend lectures on Public Health Genetics: An Emerging Interdisciplinary Field For The Post-Genomic Era and take in an opera? Or am I out jamming to some Barry Manilow or KC & The Sunshine Band? Buying 90210 collectibles on eBay? Maybe bowling? Won’t they wish they knew?
Or maybe I should just accept who I am – or at the very least, who Google and Amazon.com think I am. Nah. Too easy.
And, embarrassingly enough, way too dumb.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt loves Oh Mandy. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or http://userweb.epohi.com/~kseabolt.)
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