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