Monday, 21 October 2013

You Don't Even Know Me

Hello!  Is it me you're looking for?

Sorry it's been a while but a bit of dream come true stuff has been happening in that I am now writing for a living so my fingers are busy wearing the letters off the keypad of my laptop as I spend my days pouring words onto pages.

Some of the stuff I'm writing is focused on social media which has led to discussions about how people worry about what information they share online and what might happen with it.  Mostly, behind the digital line there's a pulsating mass of companies that are desperate to get you to buy something, throwing thousands of pounds at the likes of Google and Facebook in the hope of getting you to buy their product and tell your friends how great it is. 

Ideally they'd like you to 'like' their page to be in with the chance of winning a sachet of washing powder, or if you're really lucky you might win a family trip to an adventure park where your children will strip you of money within minutes of entering.

I'd say I share a fair amount online so it's easy to figure out my marital status, how many children I have, the job that I do and those that I once did.  A quick search would tell you I believe in equal marriage, wish I could turn moments with the children into memories I can physically feel and that I like to use the hashtag #gratitude fairly often.  You'd find out that I don't like Page 3, being patronised, or disabled people being served with eviction notices.  I sometimes sign petitions and I always say thank you.  I've left a trail of crumbs on the internet to be swept up and examined by SEO experts and sold on to companies.  It's fair to say they know a bit about me, but if these results are anything to go by, they've got a long way to go.

On LinkedIn, I'm asked if I'd like to be a global alliances manager, an account director or a Director of CRM.  No to all three but thanks for asking. 

On Facebook I'm served endless ads that are either ridiculous 'The house wife's anti-aging trick that Dr's don't want you to know!', 'lose 7kg of belly fat in three weeks!' or revolting.  I was invited to 'like' a page for a women's bank.  The name of the bank started with 'w' and rhymed with bank.  Evidently to the folks advertising this non-financial institution, my activity suggests I have no subtlety, no problem with offending my friends and family online and no imagination.  So, no, to those adverts.

They are persistent but I am strong in the face of pretend doctors and vulgarians so I mark all the ads as 'misleading' or 'offensive' and laugh and shout "no!" when Facebook asks me to 'tell us what you like'. 

The upside to this kind of shabby advertising though, is that when we receive something that we're actually interested in, it makes it even better.  Which is why when the next thing happened it made very happy indeed.  I got an email from someone I met a couple of years ago and who recently bought my book.  This is what it said:

"Hi Toni

Loving the book – even though it’s kinda aimed at girlies, it made me laugh out loud on so many occasions during last week’s trip from Boston to Denver via Toronto.
It also reminded me of this

I really hope that you haven’t seen it before and you’ll definitely understand why your work reminded me of it, plus I GUARANTEE that you a) Remember all and b) Burst out laughing on at least two points!

Great work and keep it up…

Your #1 US fan!"
The link leads to a brilliant video capturing hundreds of cultural touchstones for us children of the 70's and 80's.  And he was right, I did laugh out loud and in exactly the places that he thought I would.  He was right because he's a human being, he gets context and conversation and all the other things that a search robot can't possibly do: he knows me.
Good luck Facebook and Google in even getting close to that.


Soundtrack: You Don't Know Me by Armand Van Helden

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