FIVE THôT columnist Rocky McGredy gives us his view on the world in weekly doses.
Think about your best friend in the whole wide world. You’ve known him/her since you were three years old, and you’ve been inseparable for the majority of your life. Whenever you have a deep dark secret, best friend is the first to know. Every crush you’ve ever had, every weird rash you’ve ever contracted from a yoga mat, every insecurity that you’ve ever expressed; your best friend knows about all of these things. The internet still knows more.
You’ve probably been using the internet since some time in the mid-to-late 1990s, and since then you’ve been suffering from an ever-growing addiction. At some point in the development of said addiction, the websites you visit gained the ability to track your every move. Sure sure sure, your data is anonymized, but what does anonymized mean? They don’t use your name? Okay, well at least they don’t know your name. Everything else? Well, that goes into a vault somewhere; stored inside an anonymous profile that is fed new information everyday.
Imagine if that best friend of yours had an incredible brain that could store the most detailed memories about you. When asked, your best friend could recite– to the most minute detail– any event that the two of you had ever experienced together. Best friend always gives you the most thoughtful gifts on your birthday because he/she remembers details about you that you forgot long ago. Best friend can create statistics on how many times you’ve used the word, “dude,” in your conversations together. Best friend knows it all.
You may not even realize that it’s happening because of the way it’s dressed up, but the websites you visit DO know this much information about you. It’s in their best interest to know this stuff, because it means better business for them. The more they know about their core demographic, the easier it is for them to make long term decisions that will be interesting to YOU. Why? Money. Is that shocking? Are you afraid for your privacy?
Well, stop it. Internet privacy is essentially an oxymoron anyway. All of your outbound traffic, since you first signed up for internet service, has been trackable. The difference is whether people care or not about the things that you do on the web. Sure, companies care about the websites you visit and the things you say, but that’s just so they can market their products to you. It’s the same as the commercials you see on TV, but the targeting is a little more accurate. Still outraged? That’s fine, you can stop using the Internet.