Creepy And Accurate

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.