Well, that’s a lot of hogwash and any entity, actual or digital, that makes the claim ought to be tarred, feathered and run out of town. Read the small print. They do indeed value our privacy, because it is sliced, diced, simmered slowly and turned into a sauce that’s sold for big bucks.
And there are some circumstances that make sense. As print news disappeared from newsstands worldwide and the New York Times et al went online, they had to find monetary sources or fold up camp. And I’m okay with that as long as they don’t take me for an idiot. Be upfront, guys. “We need to sell your every personal detail to anyone we can, to keep on sending you what serves as news these days and we’re sorry to have fired 70% of our international journalists.
Facebook led the way
Desperate for a way to stay afloat, some of the brighter bulbs in various media marketing departments noticed a young, fresh-faced, ethically unhindered punk kid rapidly becoming one of the wealthiest miscreants on the planet. Mark Zuckerberg was killing print media by taking it digital without payment and getting rich in the bargain.
In fear of being made redundant (fired), a few newspaper guys peeked under the carpet of Facebook with a flashlight and caught the gleam of gold. He was mining his members most personal information, bathing in the riches of their personal privacy.
It didn’t cost anything to join Facebook. Each of close to three billion users were a small and lovely, salable information nugget. Zuck turned down no buyers, while hooking up grandmas with cats, conspiracy theorists, terrorist organizations, cute baby pictures and Nazis. The news guys took note.
The key was saying ‘we value your privacy’ and then selling you out for big bucks. The further push was finding the socially isolated and hooking them together in a network advertisers ate up.
A variant is “you are very important to us, please hold”
Optimistic suckers that we are, we were sold the wonderful-sounding concept of the ‘service industry,’ without ever being told that meant self-service.
My bank, your bank, everyone’s bank has the same automated message:
“You have reached Bob’s Pretty Good Bank. All of our service agents are busy at the moment, taking care of our valued customers. You are very important to us. If you want to inquire about your balance, press 1; a car loan, press 2; senior bank representative, press 3” (and on and on).
Meanwhile, as you tap your pencil and wait, the sales pitch comes at you for stuff you don’t want with periodic interruptions to tell you how important you are. This has two purposes, to bullshit you about your importance and encourage you to never call again.
Service stations—that’s what they actually called them—once greeted you with a smile, pumped however much gas you asked for, cleaned your windshield, checked your oil and tire-pressure, installed new wiper-blades if you needed them, made change for your $10 bill and waved goodbye as you left. No more. Now we pump our own, get a splash of overfill on our clothes and slide our credit-card to an over-tired lady behind bulletproof glass.
Then there’s Google, Microsoft, PayPal and Skype
There is absolutely no way on earth to contact anyone in these behemoth companies upon whom we all rely. At the absolute best they may have ‘online communities’ where all we helpless customers thrash around to help each other. The larger you are, the less you give a damn in this technological jungle we wander, no more cared for than naked savages.
Yeah well, that’s progress I suppose. It’s been my experience—having lived in all or part of ten decades—that each decade is slightly shittier than the one it replaces.
If you want to talk to someone who really doesn’t give a damn, press 9. Her name is Irma. She has three kids, three jobs and a husband who beats her.
Image Credit: tech-contracts.com