So Facebook found out I was single again before my family did. I was scrolling during my morning quiet time a few days after we traded keys and saw those ad windows in my stream announce: BEST THREE DATING APPS for RECENTLY SINGLE dudes. To blend in among posts and camouflage their intent, the links were liked by three of my “friends” I couldn’t pick out in a line up without looking at their profile first.
I thought… maybe a coincidence… Clearly Artificial Intelligence isn’t that intuitive…
But then there was the ad for EUGENIX testosterone enhancement and of course HIMS E.D. pills. Followed by some kind of link that claims the statistical happiness quotient of meeting Slavic women and where men can find Asian ladies. Or dating mindfully. In among fake news and pictures of food and fiends from college with their kids doing gymnastics competitions and whatever appalling piece of injustice trolled from the world-wide webs, I saw the sinister truth in clear black and white.
When our trends change, when life makes an abrupt turn… there used to be a lag. A glitch in the Matrix, but now it’s woven in. We’ve become this. Advanced search configurations and tracking can probably predict what I may have to eat tonight based on trends to some degree of accuracy. This is the cost of having toilet paper delivered to our door in the middle of the night. The real question is, did the sneaky math machine know it was coming before I did? Were they able to tell by the Netflix streaming options, and the diminishing curve of good night texts and the pause rate in between. And how does facial recognition software fit into all of this?
So, Facebook figured out I was single. I didn’t touch my status. I don’t think I ever have. For all I know, I could still be married to my ex-wife from way back. I mean, the pictures of our story book wedding are down in my photo stream. We joked about it the other day as she went back to Sweden, “The bigger the wedding, the shorter the marriage.”
I wonder if buried in the service agreement is some kind of key word trigger that activates Agent Smith when we drift too far from our predictable behavior to charm us back in line.
A small price to pay for freedom, right?
But it baffles me just the same. And besides…the puzzle keeps me occupied while my heart heals up, and I get beneath my feet again. I’m no sleuth, and I certainly don’t know advanced mathematics, but, this is what I got: all the meta data harvested from my cellular device must have concluded — since I no longer send bit emojis to a certain number in the 310 area code- that it was time to change my target-based-ad-stream to show me TEN WAYS for NICE GUYS TO NOT FALL INTO THE NICE GUY TRAP.
Jeez, now the book of face knows I’m a nice guy, too? That’s it. I’m buying a Harley and getting a tattoo just to break the code. Or I should join the Republican Party or a taxidermy convention just to cause it to think its got me pegged. What else does this thing know about me that I don’t?
We give it away, we give so much away.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to admit my own hypocrisy here. I just… I much preferred it when the 0101001 sent travel packages, hiking gear, and things to do with writing sites. The status quo that lulls us into a false sense of security whispers such a sweet melody to distract us, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t quite cloud out the real: we are the product and the consumer. And that mean I guess, we are ever so gently guided toward eating ourselves. We interface on such a deep level with the system. It becomes a part of us, much like a digital saddle. But the imperfections in the binary code shine like glass in the sun when our behavior patterns shift. The system can’t quite adapt to the inevitabilities of life. Ask anyone who is coping with loss. In any form.
But when these patterns shift, I also get to see how much power I gave away.
For example, every time I get in my car and turn on WAZE navigation, it boots up and starts to load me in the direction of where she lived; if it is between the hours of 4-6 pm. Or after I leave a meeting on Thursday at 8.30. I have to manually over ride it.
We have to manually opt out. And then when we do, we get to see it with that quiet sense of detachment. And it becomes what 0100100 it is; the homogenized privilege of convenience — 0011100 – where we get shepherded to our likes and only see what a set of zeroes and ones filters based on our prejudices. But I see something else in this period of reflection. 110001001 I see how we narrow 0100100 ourselves. Or I do. And think I see #0101001 more than there is. But it blinds. And sours. And keeps us isolated. This hybrid wheel of trending that uses our disgust and outrage at base inequalities about things like fairness and law and reduces it to a share and a button and a profile.
A profile. Look the word up. It means many things but it also means: