The algorithms are scaring me now

By now I’m sure we’ve all had the weirdly unsettling experience that goes something like this:

I was talking to a friend about how to best slice tomatoes, and nobody else was in the room, and then the next day my Facebook feed kept showing me ads for mandolin slicers and tomato-slicing gadgets and kitchen cutlery! It’s SCARY, man!

I’ve kind of gotten used to this, to be honest. I find advertising an irritant and nothing more; I generally pay no attention to it. What’s a little frustrating is how often I’ll see a whole bunch of ads for a thing or a category of things–after I’ve already bought the one example of such a thing that I needed! Buy a new vacuum cleaner? Why then, here are a bunch of ads for vacuum cleaners! But…I don’t need another one, so why am I seeing all these ads?

But then these algorithms can get a bit too granular in their serving up content to satisfy very particular tastes. My mother has been out of town, so I’ve been hanging out at night with my father, and I’ve already noted that there’s been a lot of prime-time The Price is Right on lately, so I’ve seen more TPIR in the last couple weeks than I had probably in the last ten years.

Yesterday I visited YouTube just to kill time by checking out some videos, and YouTube suggested several TPIR clips, probably because I searched for a couple on the post from a few days ago. Leading the pack was this clip, likely from the early 80s, in which a young woman who looks a lot like actress Elisabeth Shue from The Karate Kid (if you were a straight dude in the 80s you crushed on her in that movie, it’s just a thing you did, like playing Pac-Man) plays for a car. And she’s wearing purple overalls.

Yeah, sometimes these algorithms get it right to an eerie degree.

I wonder if Konnie is still out there somewhere…she’d probably be in her early 60s by now, if I’ve timed this right.

(BTW, I noted that I spent a bit of Friday morning taking The Wife to a local hospital for an in-and-out procedure. When I picked her up I had to wait in the surgical waiting room for fifteen minutes or so. I walked in and plunked myself down in the nearest seat that wasn’t clustered by other people, and then I noticed that everyone else was looking in my direction. Weird…until I realized that they weren’t looking at me at all, they were watching the teevee that was hanging above my head. And on the teevee at that point? You guessed it. The Price is Right.)



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One Response to The algorithms are scaring me now

  1. Roger says:

    We ARE stalking you. Your Social Security number is 123…

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