Saturday, March 7, 2009

Stalked by my computer

One of the down sides of living in the moment is that you start to notice things. And one thing I've noticed lately does not make me happy. I think I'm being stalked by my computer. Or more specifically, by Facebook.

I dipped my toe into the world of social media by establishing a presence on Facebook. I don't exactly know what I'm doing there yet, and I am definitely flummoxed by most of the rest of the tools like Twitter and Digg and whatever else. But I sure recognize good old-fashioned real-world target marketing when I see it, even in Web 2.0 (or are we on to 3.0 by now?)

On the right hand side of my Facebook page are ads for various products. Today's assortment of messages exhort me to drink red wine as an anti-aging elixir, offer me something to flatten my bulging belly and announce a great new way to erase 40 years of wrinkles.

On the day after my birthday, while I munch on a scone from the coffee shop that undoubtedly will not flatten my belly and check out the invitation to my 40th high school reunion, I'm not saying I'm not an appropriate target for these messages. But how do they know this?

I don't think I remember telling Facebook my birth year, although that might have been a requirement for participation. Maybe it's my name, which was the most popular for girls born in 1949-1954, then faded into oblivion forever branding me a boomer (as though the flabby abs and wrinkles aren't enough to give it away....) Maybe somebody at Facebook looks at the profile pictures and delivers the pages of the plump and/or shriveled to advertisers.

Maybe they're just good at what they do, in terms of targeting likely prospects.

Whatever the means by which they have identified me, I don't appreciate it. I wonder if I'm emitting some big scarlet O (for Old) through my fingers on the keyboard and into cyberspace. I don't like being stalked.

I guess I can just be glad they're not (yet) pitching me mortuary services.

1 comment:

Emily said...

I hear you on this one! I recently joined gmail and have been unsettled at the eerie correlation between what I'm telling my mom and what the gmail ad bar says. It creeps me out for the most part. Except for when it gets it wrong - a minor but powerful triumph. For example, I'm writing about Justus Drugstore - ahem, a restaurant - and gmail thinks I might be interested in purchasing all my OTC meds at HA! Score one for the humans!

As for Facebook - check out the thumbs up/down icons below each ad. It's fun to thumbs down all the ads excpet then when it asks for a reason, I can never decide between "Uninteresting" or "Irrelevant." Both are so applicable...