Feeling Cyber Stalked?

Cyber America

It’s Cyber Monday, and as soon as I opened my laptop, I heard repeated pings from my inbox–merchants touting the advantages of rushing onto the shopping super-highway and making stop after stop to shop while I’m still in my pajamas.  And though I had taken the day off, I knew that in offices around the country, workers turned from the mundane to flirt with the cyber lover who would offer the most for the least in return.

As I have been each year since Cyber Monday came into existence, I’ll be in the passenger seat of my car today for a six-hour drive home from a long weekend at the ocean. But the difference this year?  We have a 4G iPad that would allow my two super-highways to converge if I wanted.

Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m one of those rare people my age who revels in the possibilities of technology.  At my job I write lesson packages for interactive whiteboards and use software to design slideshows with voice-overs while I marvel that when I began teaching, one of my college classes taught me how to make my own filmstrip.  (Does anyone even remember what those were?)  My 26-year-old laughs that I spend more time on Facebook than she does, and when she shared my web site and this blog with her friends, she J that her mom is more tech savvy than she is.  I love it that I can reconnect with old friends, that I can find an answer to a burning question without waiting to go to the library, that I can want a book and have it in my hands in less than a minute, that I can share my thoughts with the world without waiting for a publisher to decide they’re worthwhile.

But I also have to admit that I find it a little creepy when companies pursue me from the cyber cloud.  I compare a book on Amazon and in the iTunes store, and within a few days I get an email from the merchant I didn’t choose reminding me that I was considering the book and another email from the merchant I chose telling me about comparable books I might like.  If I buy something and then neglect the merchant for a while, I get an email with an offer that sounds a lot like a wistful letter from a former lover asking, “Why don’t you like me any more?”

And as if hearing all those political ads weren’t torture enough, I signed a petition for a cause I supported and got email after email from the organization that started the petition and for the party that included the issue in its platform.  And now that the election is over, I’m still getting at least an email a day from each of them, even though I’ve unsubscribed.

And perhaps creepiest of all, after cleaning out my history and deleting hundreds of cookies, these same merchants force me to allow the cookies if I want to shop again in their online store.

So I think I’ll just go to the mall this year and actually hold in my hands the things I want to buy for the people I love.  And, hey, maybe it’ll be easier to get a parking space after all of you buy your goods from the cyber stalkers.

What about you?  Are you buying the latest pick-up line from your smooth-talking cyber suitor?

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