Does growing a garden mean the end is near?

I have a problem with the way Internet marketing works. Actually, a couple of problems. Because we seemed destined to dispose of more and more of our disposable income on the ‘Net, maybe it’s worth voicing my concerns.

First, every on-line marketer seems to assume that you want to buy more of what you just bought. That makes sense, perhaps, if you just bought a movie, or razor blades, or some other low-cost or consumable item.

But I just bought a new home entertainment system — well, a receiver and a couple of speakers, anyway. Back in the previous century, we would have called it a stereo, but this thing has to hook up to my TV, and everything has to be on before I can play a music CD. So I guess that makes it a home entertainment system.

My email in-box filled up with offers from the companies I shopped to sell me more home theater systems, receivers, speakers, and big screen TVs. Google got in on the act, too, so that now whenever I’m on the Internet, I see ads for the same stuff. Their database is right on, though, because most of the ads are for the brands I actually bought.

Now, I ask you, what are the chances I’m going to buy another expensive system right after I bought that one? It’s happened with a lot of things I’ve bought. When I got a new cell phone, lots of companies tangentially associated with my purchase started flooding me with offers to sell me a new cell phone — for the other ear, maybe?

If they know what I bought, why can’t they do the math and figure out I’m not likely to buy a similar item again while this one is under warranty and/or contract?

Not to mention my previous cell phone carrier, who now sends me thank yous for being such a good customer (I dropped them because I couldn’t get a signal at my own house). I spoke to three different departments by phone to explain why I was leaving them. I didn’t pull any punches, and told them their customer service was fine, thank you for asking, but the actual phone service didn’t work. Now I get a letter in the mail every other week pointing out that since I’m such a good customer, they’ll let me expand my service.

My second gripe is that whoever decides what attracts me to certain purchases must be surveying some strange sorts. For instance, I have bought several books from Amazon on gardening — how and what to grow, how to preserve what you grow, simple things like that. Now my “special for you recommendations,” based on what Amazon has determined I will like, include mostly what used to be called survivalist materials.

Now, I’m not denying that survivalists might be checking on farming and gardening to help them survive after the black helicopters take over the government. But I have never worried about such as that, nor am I likely to. If the new world order comes, I figure there’ll be nowhere to hide anyway, and my little stronghold,no matter how much water and ammo I’ve stockpiled, will fall immediately, if the folks in charge think it’s worth taking.

No, I never thought anything about that. I just wanted to grow a few vegetables.

But Amazon is sure that’s what I had in mind.

I even tried arguing with the database. I “fixed the recommendations” by checking “not interested” and “don’t use this selection for future recommendations.” But as soon as the survivalist books I de-recommended disappear, they are replaced by more and more strident titles — how to keep your neighbors from stealing your ammo after the millennium, etc.

Maybe Amazon knows something I don’t.


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