As a fifty-one year old woman, I don’t have a lot of use for penile enlargement supplements. As a person who posts pictures of her dog more often than her kids, I don’t need horse tack or kitty litter. As someone who has season tickets to the opera, it’s a good bet that I might also be interested in tickets to Hamilton.
Basically, that’s what targeted marketing is, and I’m all for it.
I know that’s an unpopular opinion. Alexa might very well be a spy, Siri listens every time I speak, Google tracks every keystroke, my GPS knows every step I make, and my FitBit knows every breath I take. And thank goodness for it. I’m not worried about anyone getting my secrets – I have no secrets worth getting. Whatever government agent is assigned to spy on me has clearly been a naughty boy at work and is being punished by being given the most gawdawful boring assignment at the domestic spying agency. Listening to interminable arguments about whether or not the meatloaf in the fridge is still good; questioning whether real life can skip like a record when I ask for the 45th time in a day whose wash is still in the dryer.
It is a little spooky that sometimes I don’t say things out loud and yet still I get very specific targeted marketing responses. One day I was scrolling through social media and a friend had posted an old picture of her mother. I thought – thought, mind you, did not say – huh, her mother looks like Ann Richards. The very next day I got a targeted ad inviting me to a play about Ann Richards in Dallas, more than 800 miles from where I sat.
I can like it or dislike it, but it is true, and there isn’t much I can do about it if I want to continue to use the internet, which I more or less have to if I want to continue to work and be relatively social. And truth be told, I like it. I would much rather see ads for books I want to read and shows I want to see and fun, quirky gifts I think my kids would like for the holidays than have to scroll past nonsense that doesn’t interest me at all. Truly, I couldn’t possibly care one whit less if Black & Decker has a new attachment for its table saw. There are people out there who might jump up and down with delight, and I assume they are getting those ads: bully for them. At the beginning of the pandemic they didn’t get the ads for the masks printed with my own little puppy’s face on them.
We get what we like. What we need. What we want. And no more. For the price of some information that is of no use to me. I can’t think of anything nefarious that anyone can do with the algorithms collected from my shopping habits beyond encouraging me to spend more money.
So targeted marketing is a win-win. I stimulate the economy and give raw consumer
data to the big capitalist machine that runs the country, and in return I get
fewer ads for prostate health supplements. That seems fair to me.
 I looked it up to see if a ‘whit’ was an actual measurement of something, and it turns out it isn’t. It is a stand in for the smallest amount imaginable. Whit | Definition of Whit by Merriam-Webster. Which is, by the way, the accurate measurement for how much less it is possible for me to care about table saws.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.