Posts Tagged ‘internet’

O.I.N.K Update

March 9th, 2011 No Comments

A week ago, I changed my profile information on Facebook to identify me as a plus size model who lives in Japan. Facebook’s advertising bots haven’t caught up with me yet. I’m getting ads for low cost high heel shoes (which would appeal to the me in Japan) and real estate opportunities and home decorating services in Wyoming. This means that somewhere in the massive Facebook computer database, I’m still comprehended as my previous identity: a gay cowboy who lives in Wyoming. I think the only intelligent ad directed at me in this current bunch is for moving services. Placing that in the narrative, this gay cowboy had decided to change his life in a big way and is moving to Japan. But what will he pack for his new life? Maybe he should buy a whole new wardrobe for his new persona. And, I think, plastic surgery is also something to consider.

Saying O.I.N.K. to Facebook

March 3rd, 2011 No Comments

Last night I changed my Facebook identity from that of a gay cowboy who lives in Wyoming to a plus size model who lives in Japan. The new me is a fan of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton because if you were a plus size model in Japan, you’d probably be suicidal.

This frequent morphing of my identity is an act of rebellion I started a few weeks back when Facebook changed its format to reflect the data it had collected on me in a strip across the top of my Facebook page. (earlier blog post: Who Am I On The Internet?) Tuesday night while on Facebook, I joined a small knot of renegades who are angry in the same way I am about how the Facebook overlords are making billions from little pieces of us that they do not own and that we didn’t initially realize we’d given them permission to manipulate.

One of the members of this modest revolt, the author Walter Kirn, said it best on a post on his website yesterday.

“. . . it occurred to a few of us at once in that spooky quantum new way that there was something cowering and servile, something just plain slavish and depressing, about chatting and mingling with our ‘friends’ inside an environment and in a manner that had both been specifically engineered to yield up salable, packageable marketing data for the super-rich masters of the site. It felt to us, suddenly, belatedly, like we were in the position of young children whose supposedly spontaneous play is also, thanks to tiny dynamos attached to their little legs and arms, a profitable energy-generating scheme. The more we shared our ‘likes’ and made new friends and linked and updated and built communities and did all that other cool connective stuff that purportedly adds up to a Great Leap Forward, the faster we made those data windmills spin and the more juice we fed back into the grid for the grid’s owners to broker and redistribute.”

Our late night comment thread produced only one collective action: that we would post the acronym O.I.N.K. at the end of our status updates on Facebook and encourage others to do the same. It’s such an early stage in this that we haven’t even figured out what the initials of O.I.N.K represent. Since then, I’ve done so, but irregularly and only one of my Facebook friends took up this cause.

My personal pint-size rebellion continues, however. I’m not going to be myself at all on Facebook, so it has no way to market to me.

It started a year ago when I realized that they were advertising to me based on my martial status as divorced. I’m over the age of 50, so the ads on the side of my page were for senior dating sites. (Even if AARP thinks I’m a senior, I don’t consider myself one.) And I occasionally look for solutions to my weight issue on the web, which for some reason Facebook also knows. (I guess they’re in cahoots with Google.) Then I started getting ads proclaiming fat senior singles wanted to date me. Looking every day at a page that said fat old guys were after me really brought me down. All of this abruptly ended when I changed my martial status to widowed. I guess no one knows how to market to widows, or thinks that they’re too depressed to spend money. Or that fat old guys aren’t interested in fat old widows.

That was the first identity manipulation. How Facebook gets you to sell yourself out, however, is via your own greed and ambition. We’re all supposed to want to build or brand, right? I’m well connected enough as a writer that Facebook often offers up nationally known authors, journalists and media figures for me to “friend” saying that we have fifteen or more “friends” in common. These are people like Susan Orlean, Kathryn Harrison, Barbara Ehrenreich, Robert Greenwald and Michael Wolfe.

Now that I am a plus size model in Japan, will these people accept my friendship? Once they take a look at my Facebook picture.

The bodacious Japanese plus size model

Will they want to know me?

Who Am I On The Internet?

February 11th, 2011 No Comments

When I signed up for Facebook a few years back, it asked me many personal questions. I thought these were simply part of the application process. Once I became a Facebook presence, to my surprise, all of that information was available to the world of my Facebook “friends”.
A quick retrenchment and obfuscation ensued because my Facebook “friends” are not really my friends, but a collection of people from the past to whom I longer spoke, some actual friends, former co-workers (I have 45 “friends” from People as People people are great joiners) and colleagues from business. In this way, it’s hard to know what to say. Can’t be bland. Can’t express the outer edges of my personality or even some of the less florid ones. So who am I there? And why express anything at all if I’m suddenly so self-conscious?
I solved this last month by deciding to be someone else, which I announced to my “friends” in a status update.
I changed my profession to cowboy and my sex to male and my place of residence to Wyoming. I left in place the fact that I am not in a relationship and am interested in men.
So now I am a gay cowboy who lives in Wyoming and whose quote is: “It’s all about branding.”
As a result, on the side of my Facebook page I get the most delightful advertisements: Gay dating services (where the men are considerably more attractive than dating services for women), cruise opportunities for the Caribbean where the men seem to spend all day in little but thongs or carefully draped towels, offers for tracts of land outside Casper, enticements to explore the world of mining.
I think this might confuse someone who thinks they know me and tries to “friend” me. But are they really my friends? Really?
Friend as a verb. Just thinking about it makes “friend” sound creepy.
Maybe I’ll change my Facebook profile today. I’m thinking of either a toll taker on the New Jersey Turnpike who likes Civil War re-enactments and Heavy Metal, or a plus-size lingerie designer who lives in Tokyo and is a fan of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton.
Which do you prefer? Or suggest another.