Data-pimping our lives

"Using chromosomes in advertising? Because you know sex cells." Courtesy of
“Using chromosomes in advertising? Because you know sex cells.” Courtesy of

Advertising continues to get creepier and more intrusive.

The saying for guys is to avoid flirting with the bartender during her shift. If you’re going to try to make a move, it’s better to get her attention when she’s off. During work hours she’s working on getting a tip. For now she’s just an extension of the business — a living, breathing advertisement.

Take a step outside of the bar and the rest of the world is a nightmarish playground for those that work in the shadows. At a bar, it’s easy to understand that the bartender represents the interests of the business. In the outside world, that delineation is not so obvious.

It seems, these days, as though nothing is off limits to an organization’s reach — not even our desire for privacy and a sense of security within that establishment’s property.

Take a moment to look at what everyone carries around in their pocket: smartphones. You could argue that these contain the most personal details of our lives. They carry our social lives, our politics, our religion, interests and capital worth. This is why when advertisers get inside of our tiny little pocket friends, we sense that something doesn’t feel right.

While advertising represents the cost of using a free app, the new ways advertisers are selling products are becoming more expensive to the consumer than the original product’s worth.

One way advertising is becoming more intrusive is through social networks. You’ve now got message bots on sites with chat features, products sold on Instagram (Lexus and Ben & Jerry’s have been placing ads on users’ timelines in a sleek way) and fake user profiles on dating apps like Tinder.

On Tinder, the Fox show’s star Mindy Kaling poses as a real user and as soon as you like her profile, you’re immediately spammed with a message telling you to watch her new show.

This type of stuff makes users feels cheap, plastic and like a statistic when companies prey on your needs, wants and desires and use that two-way exchange solely for their benefit. How far must one go to sell something?

Also, when you troll me on a dating app, it doesn’t make me want to watch your new show. It does the exact opposite. In fact, I’ll write a blog to convince people this was a poor choice on your part.

Some companies go much further than trolling on social networks and dating sites. GlaxoSmithKline, the highly profitable British drug company, has been pushing to sell drugs to children that may not need the doses recommended by their doctors.

According to the New York Times,

“The British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will no longer pay doctors to promote its products and will stop tying compensation of sales representatives to the number of prescriptions doctors write.”

America is one of the few countries that allows prescription medications to be sold to its public. This type of thing should go against our values as Americans. It’s one thing to make an argument that our health-care system market-based, but it’s a completely different argument to say our medications should not only be deceptively sold, but tied to doctor compensation.

It’s no wonder so many of our children today are overprescribed medication.

At least the government’s NSA does us all a favor and doesn’t throw advertising in our faces in order sell us products we don’t need. Instead, they bypass advertising and collect our data without proper judicial review then use that data for whatever uses they may (or may not) have.

When the NSA spies on us, we lose a sense of security that is necessary for a healthy customer-to-producer relationship because the intelligence community has interjected itself into the dynamic.

We also lose a chance to feel safe enough so that we can figure ourselves out and attempt to self actualize.

Luckily, some companies — Google and Verizon — are fighting back.

These companies comprise highly-organized factions and individuals that work through distorting reality. How long before they start hiring real people and having them act as walking, talking advertisements? Oh wait, isn’t that what much of our society already is (rappers, actors, athletes, politicians)?

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