For those of you who don’t know me, and that’s probably a lot of you considering I’m a very private guy 😉 , will probably know that I don’t share a lot of personal information on the web. Oh sure, I wrote all those wonderful iDad stories about my family, but I rarely ever post pictures of my children or myself in social media, unless it is for close friends and relatives.
I’ve been on Facebook since 2007 and have kept a lot of my private information off there. Over time however there have been a couple of facts creep in such as birthdays, job changes and educational achievements, but the majority of my comments, likes and status updates are innocuous and of no interest to anyone outside my circle of friends.
Or so I thought!
When I separated from my wife a little over two years ago I changed my relationship status to single. It was a weird, hollow feeling selecting a different line in that drop down menu and I resolved that I would not alter my relationship status again – regardless. Thankfully my partner feels the same way and we have kept our private life private from all but those we love.
In the months after changing my status I added more ‘likes’, went to a few ‘events’ my friends had organised, commented on pictures of food, tattoos, other people’s kids and holiday snaps, and checked in at a few sporting arenas and concerts. All the while, in the background, Facebook’s algorithms were quietly categorising me.
I didn’t make it easy for Facebook. I never told them whether I was interested in men or women. I never indicated a political preference. My religious status is right out of Monty Python – He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!
They know I live in Sydney, but not where.
They know I am a male, but not what I look like. My avatar is a bleeding voodoo doll with a pin sticking out of his neck.
They know where I work because my profile is linked to the company page.
But that’s it.
Over the last few months however I have noticed that the sponsored links on the right hand side of my news feed have become somewhat more targeted.
I have posted comments about Rugby League and my love of the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the past. Now I am seeing ads for Tom Waterhouse Betting who has a direct link to the National Rugby League and its broadcaster, Channel Nine.
I have commented on the ink my friends and relatives have etched onto their skin. Now I am being invited to view images of sexy tattoos from Harlow Minx.
When I posted that I had signed up for the City to Surf this year my feed was flooded with sponsored ads from Adidas, Nike and Puma.
Comments about my career have lead to offers of MBA study at various universities.
The day I taught my children to ride a push bike I was offered 70% off cycling shoes from SportPursuit as well as florescent wheel reflectors and special sunglasses.
It is an amazing marketing tool that Facebook possesses here, but the one offer I seem to receive the most is love.
At first it began with a little ‘fun at forty‘ which lead to an immediate regret at telling them my birth date 😉 Then I was offered some cheeky social love, dating profiles on Zoosk and all manner of pretty girls apparently looking for boyfriends.
After a while of not clicking through to any of these offers they became more persistent. I was being introduced to young women, mature women, some that wanted faithful men and others that wanted love from a distance. I could buy three dollar lingerie for any potential prospect, which I am sure would be itchy and uncomfortable, and get some rhinoplasty for my nose. They even tried to convince me to join a website that purported to be able to get my ex-wife back.
Each month the promise of love was greater and greater until yesterday when I received the attached image as one single line of adverts on my Facebook feed.
No more shoes.
No more credit cards.
No more bank loans.
Perhaps I should change my relationship status after all?