In the Cart!

Is God behind the internet? That might be a stupid question, but I have my reasons for asking. Other than God and Santa Claus, the internet is the only thing that seems to know my every move. And remember it. Ad nauseum remember, I might add. What am I talking about, you might ask? Let me explain.

I did some surfing…on the web, not the ocean…looking for bathroom rugs. We have some nice ones, but after numerous washings and cats using them as wrestling mats, they’re a little ragged. Since then, I get a daily e-mail asking if I’m still interested. Even if I visited the website for a split second, they’re so concerned about missing a sale, they contact me. I wish my memory was half as good as theirs.

I’ve noticed something else. I like to shop online, since recliner shopping doesn’t involve traffic, being outside when it’s 200 degrees, or mall walking. If I buy something and go to another website, I’ll see an ad for the first company. Obviously, if I purchase from Sears Penney’s won’t run their ad, but if I check a daily comic strip or Facebook, it’s right there.

There’s only one logical explanation. Computer stalking. “Someone” somewhere is tracking my every move. I thought about reporting it to the police, but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing they can do about it. And I’d have to go down there in person, because I’m almost positive my computer wouldn’t let me submit an online form reporting its voyeurism. Since I try to avoid downtown because of the traffic, I’m stuck with being stalked.

For years, I thought cookies came from the oven or aisle 23 at Walmart, but that’s no longer true. Cookies are now a tracking device designed to spy on your every move. I hate the name. I wish they’d call it asparagus or some other vegetable I dislike. The very name “cookie” conjures up pleasant memories of home baked goodies, when in fact the internet’s cookies are intrusive, annoying, and downright unpleasant.

Cookies make it virtually impossible to surf in peace. Even when I finally found my rugs, that didn’t stop several companies from e-mailing another suggestion. The behind-the-scenes process must be fascinating. I visit their site, an air horn wakes up a bored cubicle dweller, other workers rush over and crowd around, shouting encouragement. They watch while he/she searches frantically for an e-mail associated with my IP address. Once found, I’m pretty sure they’re high fiving. And the solicitations begin.

Heaven forbid I stay on that page longer than a nanosecond, or I’ll get an e-mail with a “Still interested?” or “Take another look!” comment at the top. Sure enough, there’s a picture of whatever I was looking at. Do these people have nothing better to do than track my every move? And who is this person? Is their name Cookie? Is that how it all started?

Sometimes, Cookie isn’t very smart. I bought some seeds from a company last week and got the confirmation e-mail. The next day, I got an e-mail saying I left something in my cart. Cowpeas. I double checked and the e-mail listed them. Since my black-eyed peas were the most important part of that order, I contacted the company. The peas were coming, and they apologized for the confusion. Case closed? Nope.

For the next week, I got a daily e-mail asking if I wanted the cowpeas. I ignored them, so Cookie upped the game and offered me a discount. I finally decided to solve the problem and went to the website to delete the item from my cart. The cart was empty. Cookie was probably snickering and thinking it served me right, because I didn’t buy them when I had the chance. The joke’s on him/her, because the cowpeas came in with the other seeds. I was tempted to contact the company and ask for that discount, but I nixed that idea. Pretty sure that would have resulted in another hundred e-mails.

I heard the “you’ve got mail” ding while typing this. Yep. Amazon e-mailing an item I might be interested in. Another version of something I bought a while ago. Seriously? This stalking has got to stop. I may be an author who blogs, but a certain amount of anonymity is a good thing. I’m just thankful I didn’t search for hemorrhoid cream.

Cookie isn’t satisfied with simply snooping. He/she gossips. It’s no secret I like gardening, and gardeners.com is my go-to website. Cookie passes that information to other companies offering gardening stuff. Only problem…I’m now getting snail-mail catalogs for flowers. Really? Can you eat a tulip? Or gardenia? Actually, I don’t know if you can, but I grow vegetables in our back-yard farm. I do have a few rose bushes, but I planted them before I discovered the joy of growing my own salsa ingredients. You’d think Cookie would be smart enough to tell the difference, wouldn’t you?

Nothing is private anymore. I can stay huddled in my house, but I can’t escape exposure when I use a computer. Because we’re slightly paranoid, we’ve disabled most “smart” features on our devices, but that only keeps them from listening in on our conversation when I’m yelling at Ed or one of the cats. It doesn’t stop them from tracking my every move and using it against me at their discretion. I will freely admit it’s not always as bad as it sounds, because Amazon does send some recommendations I’ve taken, but those are few and far between.

In today’s electronic world, we must be careful. We need to instruct our kids/grandkids to watch what they say/do on the internet. Once there, it’s there forever. Of course, we also told them the Easter Bunny brings eggs, so I’m not sure they’ll believe us. The disadvantage of lying to our children.

I don’t mind God watching my every move and slapping me upside the head when I need it, but I don’t have that same appreciation for Cookie. My e-mail is inundated daily with a million (more or less) e-mails I delete without reading. Cookie’s compounded the problem. Sure, it’s easy for you to say I should stop using the internet, but if I do, no one will ever get a present from me. Putting up with Cookie is the price I pay for convenience. Sad. I miss the good old days when cookies were things I ate and not things I hate. To add insult to injury, all this talk of cookies has made me hungry. Not only is Cookie contributing to my irritation, now he/she’s contributing to my weight. Bad Cookie!

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