Today’s marketing buzzword is ‘smart’ and it can apply to anything that can have a WiFi , Bluetooth, or GPS connection installed such as a TV, watch, doorbell, refrigerator, airplane, nuclear reactor, or your brain (Neuralink) .
Many of us, myself included, have these devices and consider them very convenient and get upset when they don’t work properly. For example, I get annoyed when my watch won’t connect wirelessly to the internet and upload my run data. it’s “so much work” to have to plug it in to the computer!
We know that each and every smart device can send our personal data and usage data to the big database in the sky, and we don’t care as long as we can get the data we want such as “how many miles did I run and how slow was it?”.
There are privacy settings and data use settings that we can we change if we want to send LESS information, but the nature of these devices is that they will collect and send data to a server for us to use and it gets stored there. By default the data will be available to whoever has the server.
You can go into your phone settings and device settings and turn off the location sharing and targeted ads and “help” us settings . But if you want certain features to work, you can’t turn off Location completely.
Of course GPS devices must use your location. You can look at the top of your screen and if there’s an arrow, your location is being used by an app.
And most people really don’t care if they’re tracked and databased. They feel that it’s not hurting them, or that it’s worth it to get the convenience of the device.
My question today is are we fully aware that this data is and has been used to figure out what people want and don’t want , do, and don’t do, where we go and when and how, which ads work and don’t work, how long we will watch a video and what keeps us watching longer, how to get us emotionally outraged so we’ll react in predictable ways , what precedes us buying certain products, which sites we spend the most time on, how often we travel and how far, which cities and places we visit, etc etc etc.
They know us very well and they use this information to sell us products, services, and ideas. Who’s the smart one now?
This may not seems like a bad thing if you’re fully aware of being constantly marketed and manipulated , but what about those who aren’t aware? What about children from infants on up? They are highly suggestible and emotional and vulnerable to believing what adults say without question. That is a good and a very risky thing!
I would hope that most parents will be proactive about protecting their children from this manipulative marketing via internet devices, but I don’t think they will . Most millennial parents are completely fine with giving a phone or iPad to a baby or first grader as long as it gives them a break.
Is this smart or lazy? Is anyone even thinking about it?
Yes ,we Boomers used TV and videos to babysit our kids, but they were not connected to a database! They had to get data the old fashioned way, after we bought their products after seeing a commercial in a cartoon. Or they used actual surveys and focus groups. I used to get paid to give my opinions, now I give them away when I visit websites.
So figuring out what people want is not a new idea. And trying to convince us to buy products or think certain ways isn’t new. it’s just a much more sophisticated, subtle and effective type of marketing .
But what about the convenience of having cameras and sensors in every imaginable device, the internet of things? I understand. Everyone loves time saving inventions.
But my concern is the price we will ultimately pay for giving away our secrets, namely teaching them how to control us by showing them our habits, preferences, and how we make decisions. If only this information would be used to truly improve the world, but that’s not the goal for most data-gatherers.
I don’t expect things to change. This is just a commentary . I do hope anyone reading this might stop and think about what data they are giving away. And everyone should turn off certain settings and reject marketing cookies. Let’s at least slow down the flow of information. Privacy and freedom matter. And please, protect your children.