Oooh, They’re tricky. I recently booked a night at an Intercontinental Hotel. And guess what started showing up on Yahoo’s banner ads? Yup. Intercontinental Hotel ads, complete with a “click here to save” feature. They’d never been on My Yahoo before and I didn’t actually invite them to start pestering me, but I’ll say that I was pleased to finally move on from the “Obama Asks Moms to Go to School” ads with the dancing chick in skin tight clothes.
Here’s the other creepy tidbit that has started showing up on my Yahoo account. A sidebar listing email contacts who are currently on line. First of all, do I care? Second of all, I feel all invaded, like suddenly a bunch of voyeuristic acquaintances are going to start “chatting” at me when all I want to do is respond to that Intercontinental Hotel ad. If I want to chat with someone, I’ll send an email myself or I’ll pick up the phone (don’t count on it). But I do not need Yahoo informing me that the girl I knew 2 states ago and who still sends me a Christmas Email is currently online. How would I start that conversation anyway? “Hi. Remember me? In the years since you knew me, I’ve become an online stalker and now, every time you check your email, I’m going to talk to you.” How fast can you say “privacy issues?” It makes my free email only slightly more secure than getting my adult kicks on Craig’s List (what loser advertises on Craig’s list, anyway? That’s almost as bad as advertising your “services” on FreeCycle. Might as well just wear a sign saying, “Dumb Cheap and Easy.”)
Now, for some really fun personals, you should check out Harvard magazine. “Male PH.D. in Astrophysics seeks out of this world relationship. Must be female. Alive preferred but not necessary.” Or, for the more subtle seekers: “Fit female Financier seeks likeminded mentally mature male for occasional relationship. Must submit 401K balance upon response.” It’s a nice cross between break-your-heart pathetic and deeply troubling, with a twist of arrogance thrown in. Ahhh, to have so much, and yet so little.
But back to Them. Long gone are the barn painting, sideshow dealing days. Used to be, you could listen to the Medicine Man peddling his wares, enjoy the miracle cures from a distance, and go back to your nice safe farm. But now? You even think the term “Medicine Man” and you’ll find his face smeared all over your Google from here to next week. When some other term will trigger the advertising response and you’ll have a new fun thing to try to ignore. Me, I prefer the old fashioned method. Took a lot more effort to paint those Campbell soup cans than it does to program an algorithm.