Skip to main content

From Reverie to Reality--for a Moment

I've enjoyed turning my mind toward the Advent season. But, at times our "brave new world" bounces up into my face like a hard-to-conrol rubber ball. So, there goes my mind!

We have a new restaurant in town. Nice location, healthy food, pleasant atmosphere. I purchased a meal there last week and was given a special customer card. With this card, I can have a free 12th meal after buying 11. I can also receive a coupon for a free side dish. All I have to do is register online on their national chain's Web page.

Once I register, they will know: my name, state and zip code, e-mail address, the number of people in my household, my birthday, and whether or not I'm a vegetarian. Not exactly the contents of an FBI file, but to earn the promised discounts, I need to swipe my card in their swiper machine every time I dine. Thinking about that, I had an epiphany (not of a religious sort).

If I register that card and use it at this restaurant, I will be tracked. Hunters track. I don't want to be hunted.

Behavioral tracking used by advertisers and search engines is another form of being hunted that makes me uneasy. In case you were not aware of it, some ENTITY (person, place or thing?) notes and records what you click. After a few clicks, IT will start showing you ads for businesses IT believes will interest you or are in close geographical proximity.

The FTC has proposed a solution for those of us who don't want to be surveilled. You can read a very good, brief article about the FTC's Do Not Track Initiative by Troy Wolverton (Click on Troy's name to read the article. This is a link, even though it's not showing up as one!) at the Merced Sun Star.

Briefly: The FTC wants consumers to have a way to opt-out of having their Web "behavior" tracked by advertisers. As reported by Jackie Jones in Response magazine:

"The FTC initiative promotes the use of the 'Advertising Option Icon,' a button consumers can click on to retrieve information on the company’s online behavioral advertising data collection. As use of the Advertising Option Icon expands, consumers will eventually have the opportunity to visit aboutads.com for additional information and to opt-out of some or all participating companies' online behavioral ads." (Currently, aboutads.com hosts 1800 Contacts.)

Guess who is against this initiative? The Direct Marketing Association. I lost my trust in the DMA when I sent them an Opt-Out notice on behalf of my late father. None of the direct-mail materials addressed to him have stopped coming. He died in 2006.

Yes, we're all busy, but we will pay later for what we don't pay attention to now. This is an important issue about something that can become both pervasive and insidious.

Although the bargain-hunter inside me is pouting, I've decided I don't want to be the one who is hunted in return. I'm passing on that free meal and side dish I'd be eligible for after my tracked and carded lunches. That is too small a price to be paid for the use of my good name.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Life without Television, Part 2

I began life without television with relief, which was consistent Monday through Friday. The first few weekends, though, felt awkward, anxious, lonely. When PBS has good programming on Saturday nights, it is extraordinarily good. Father Brown, Phryne Fisher, New Tricks... Extraordinary acting, high production values, and I fantasize about the pudgy, brilliant priest just perhaps having an innocent crush on one of his special parishioners, which would be moi. 

I called a friend one Sunday. "Maybe television helped with my anxiety more than I realized," I said. She told me about her aunt who, after her husband's death, kept the television on in his "man cave" 24/7. He has been gone years now. The television goes on, everlasting, in his absence. I don't blame her. Much of my frequent and prolonged television viewing began with grief.

After my sister died, I would watch almost anything, especially late at night when sleep eluded me. I even watched Convoy with …

Our Texas, My Texas: "Memories we carry like scars and diamonds"

This post title includes a quote from Hermine Pinson's poem, "Four Sisters and the Dance." As you read, it will become clear why.

I was 7 when my father earned his Ph.D. from Duke. He then accepted a teaching position at a small private college in a rural Texas town in the 1960s. Population was 5,000, give or take a few. Our Texas roots ran deep, and we saw this return to the Lone Star State as a homecoming. So, I left the lyrical landscape of the Carolinas and the small private school where I had become nearly fluent in French. Then, I entered the hot, dry world of that small town. 

We did not yet have a place to live. Our family of five, including our infant brother, camped out in the girls' dorm for several weeks. Our furniture was stored on the university theater stage while my parents searched for a home. I was riding in the car with my dad and a member of the university administration and overheard their conversation. My father wondered where he could find help …

Thank you, Press Women!

My blog won first place in personal blog writing for 2014 in the Press Women of Texas's Communications Contest. Afterward, my blog placed second in personal blog writing nationwide in the National Federation of Press Women's Communications Contest. I can't adequately tell you what these awards mean to me, but I feel impelled to try.
From the NFPW website:
On May 6, 1937, 39 women from seven states gathered at the Chicago Women's Club to turn their vision into reality. They formed the National Federation of Presswomen (yes, then it was one word) and set forth their goals: "To provide a means of communication between woman writers nationally; make possible the expression of a common voice in matters of national interest to press women, and otherwise advance the professional standards of press women."

It was brave enough for women to found such an organization in any decade prior to 1970, but this group was founded at the height of the Great Depression. It grew to …