So I don’t use Instagram much, but I do have an account. I just clicked on it out of boredom and began scrolling. Almost immediately I was presented with ads that were decidedly well aimed. Very well aimed. I clicked on 3 ads in a 40 minute scroll through my instagram feed.
I think I’ve intentionally clicked on 3 ads in the previous 3 years before that. Maybe longer. I just don’t click. In fact I mostly don’t see them because I have an addblocker extension in Chrome. Sometimes I unblock on creator’s website and see their ads. Google ads are nearly always reminder ads of places where I shopped. It’s super easy to resist because that decision was already made and I’ve already seen the things.
But Instagram is an app on my phone, so no ad block. It’s a Facebook company, and their ad targeting is much more insidious. They know who I am. They put things in front of me that I’ve never seen before. Things that intrigued me and made me go look at the product. A portable microscope camera that you can attach to your phone and look at stuff in microcosmos – like right out in the real world! A clean key that can be used to press buttons on credit card machines and ATMs and also has a hook that will let you use it to grab some door handles. – a practical and useful thing in this day and age. A tablet that is geared toward writing rather than typing made an appeal to the old person inside me.
On the one hand, I guess it’s nice to see something new that fascinates me. On the other hand, it just knew me way too well. That portable microscope – so niche. But I was within an ace of spending money on it despite it being an utterly useless thing in my life and me being short of money due to a cut in hours. I bought the clean key though. It was expensive but I have to use a keypad to get into my apartment building. I’m constantly aware of how many surfaces I touch when I’m out in the world. I think it’s going be necessary to find ways to mitigate this in the next year. This feels like a good option.
The truth is I’m more pleased to be seen by the computer overlords than upset that algorithms snoop so much. I’m not even on Facebook. I only have instagram. But the people I follow on instagram are apparently a big clue as to who I am. Sigh. I’m pretty sure I should be outraged. That’s what everyone else says. But, hell. It wasn’t a bad experience. It was kind of good.