But maybe the food definition of spam relates in some small way to advertisements online, since one of the most frequent ads displayed to me when I log into Facebook is for McDonalds. And that's just senseless. I've heard that Facebook has access to everyone's profile information (it would be more surprising if Facebook didn't have such access), and I don't know what about me makes me seem like a good target for McDonalds advertisements. I'm a college student who likes Margaret Atwood and pop music that isn't popular (and that's just senseless also)—I'm obviously, or at least probably, a vegetarian.
This morning I opened a message in my Gmail account (the only kind of message I tend to receive: the kind I send myself), and I saw at the bottom of the email an advertisement for Dodge truck floormats: an entire set for one hundred and something dollars. I'm flattered that Gmail thinks that I own a car, even if it's a Dodge Gmail thinks I own, but I'm also pretty perplexed. Luckily, Gmail provides little links—next to the products it pushes on you—that say, "Why this ad?" I was already half wondering about the floormat ad, so I clicked "Why this ad?" and was greeted with this eerie explanation: "These ads are based on emails from your mailbox." Spies! Gmail has been reading the emails I write to myself about car accessories. Some are erotic, part of a series I call 50 Shades of, Hey, Where'd You Get that Clutch?
If I want to avoid ads on Facebook or Gmail—or if I take issue with the invasiveness of advertising—the solution is simply to stop using Facebook and Gmail. But Gmail is a nice email service, and I need a Gmail account to access this blog, and I need this blog like I need a new set of Dodge floormats. Maybe now that I've complained while logged in my Gmail account about ads on Gmail I'll start getting advertisements targeted at individuals who are tired of or irked by advertisements. Maybe I need to divulge that I drive a Camry.
Hulu sometimes asks viewers to choose which "ad experience" they want. Last night Aron and I watched "The Daily Show" and were given the chance to choose which of three (brace yourselves, this is exciting!) Buick (yes, BUICK!) advertisements to watch (obviously Hulu didn't get the message from Gmail about my Dodge), but we chose not to choose and instead waited 10 or 12 seconds for a random one to start. I don't know why we won't simply choose an ad when given the chance—and I don't know what we'd base our selection on if we made one. Aron and I are indignant about not choosing, as if we're proving a point to Hulu about ad experiences. I don't think dreams even qualify as experiences proper, so any ordinary ad probably doesn't either. But an extraordinary ad …
Facebook has also shown me advertisements for Samsung phones and Swiffer Sweepers, both of which make a little more sense than the McDonlads ads. I could conceivably be swayed to buy a cell phone (and I'm probably at a cell phone-y age), and I certainly belong to a group of women known and expected to sweep. Sometimes Facebook shows me ads for products that my friends have "liked," which really makes me want to tell my friends to stop "liking"—in the Facebook sense of the word—things. My cousin likes Always maxipads. I, too, bleed from the vagina, so Facebook has sponsored ads to me from Always, which probably wouldn't happen if I hadn't told Facebook that I'm a lady. Facebook has recommended that I might like the NRA, which I like as much as McDonalds. Facebook has suggested that I might want to be a sonographer. Facebook is right. I might.
The only advertisements that I am knowingly moved by are for alcohol. If there were a commercial for a Swiffer Sweeper drinking a Bacardi and Coke I might buy one—a Swiffer sweeper that is, but I would only use it if I had already had two or more Bacardi and Cokes). The only alcohol ads that don't move me are the ones that talk in any way about calories. It's not like alcohol ads before Miller 64 had a bunch of fatties in them. Sexy, skinny people drink tequila—why would they need to go on a drinking diet? I remember going to Midtown Arts Cinema and seeing beautiful and clever Stella Artois ads. It's always impossible for me to not want a Stella (Stella!!!), but it's even impossibler after seeing a gorgeous ad. I'm so swayable. I am not opposed to spending. There are things I buy. There are things I want.