Is Big Brother Bothering You?

Is Big Brother Bothering You?

The other day I received an email from Amazon.com. It named a book I was reading and suggested that if I liked that book I would enjoy the others it listed. I was baffled; how did Amazon know I was reading this book? I hadn’t bought the book from them; I had borrowed it from my local library. Was this just a coincidence?

Then I remembered I had searched for the book on the site recently to see what the reviews had said about it. That’s when I understood what had happened; Amazon had noted my browsing history and had emailed me based on that.

I didn’t like that. I like it less and less the more I think of it.

I don’t mind when I’m in when I’m on their site and they show me other books in the category which I might also enjoy.  I don’t even mind when I buy a book and they say, “People who bought this book also bought…” and show me other books I might enjoy. But when they send an email to me based on my browsing history I feel decidedly uneasy about it.

It felt as if they sent a representative to my home. It is one thing when a salesperson approaches you in a store on a website but when he shows up at your door it crosses the line from helpful to intrusive.

I don’t recall signing up for this service. If it had been offered to me, I may or may not have politely declined but at least I would have been asked.

An uncomfortable feeling came over me when I understood why I had received the email. I don’t like it when Big Brother is watching me, even if it’s only from the window of an online bookstore.

Do you ever feel intruded upon by all the information-gathering tools in use today? Have we become so accustomed to it that we no longer notice it? Consider the children born today who never knew a world without Facebook. How will their lives be impacted by the growing proficiency and prevalence of information-gathering tools when they have no first-hand experience of a world without them?

Is Big Brother bothering you?

photo credit: Gerlos

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About The Author


I am passionate about writing and community building. I’ve written a book about healing and happiness, The Happy Place, as well as a Community Building book, Sounding the Drum: Community Building in the Digital Age, now available at any Amazon store. I’ve been through life changes that I thought were the end of my world, but I’m still here. I never know what will happen next. Isn’t that what makes life interesting?