Essays & Images on Cities, Travel and Contemporary Culture. A web journal of James A. Clapp, Ph.D., an UrbisMedia Ltd. Production

Carpe Diem: 2017.04.02 SOLD OUT

The Trump administration has just managed to get passed with he assistance of his Republican toadies in Congress legislation that will allow our Internet providers (already a cartel) to sell information gleaned from that service, to . . . well, just whomever they damn please. We will be sold out and paying for it.

Not that there is much privacy left from our embrace of the wonders and benefits of the Internet and the various devices that connect is to it. To this point I offer my latest experience with diminishing privacy.

A few days ago (about the same time Congress was selling us out to their big donors and lobbyists to make a buck off of our personal information) I had an email exchange with my daughter in which we spoke about her dog, Nelson, in connection with a writing project she is working on. The following day I got one of my unsolicited emails about book offerings from Amazon and, lo and behold (Old English for “what the fuck!”) there were three, yes three, books about dogs and two were relevant to, the subject my daughter and I had been discussing.

Yeah! Damn right, lo and effing behold, they got this from—not some browsing I did (not) about canines on websites with cookies—but from my email! My goddamn email! I wasn’t using my iPhone, which might have GPS-tracked me to a dog park, or a pet store. I hadn’t purchased a DVD of 101 Dalmations, or Lassie Come Home. Any of these insurgencies into our privacy are already in play, and are daunting enough to free speech. No, now it’s our emails that are not only the curse of Hillary.

When I mentioned this to my daughter she said: “This has happened to me before with Google” (she has a gmail account). Oh, Great! Those Google guys who used to blather all that crap about how socially responsible they were might be eavesdropping on email to rake up possible commercial profiles they can sell. Oh Capitalism, My Capitalism! Everything is for sale.

Now consider this: this piece has just been sent to you on my server. It contains potentially numerous commercial possibilities. The Trump administration is mentioned, which might be of interest to any number of political groups; dogs, writing, DVDs, iPhones, GPS, Google, even Hillary, all are possible sale points from which I might begin to receive emails, get pop-ups and other forms of solicitations for books, other products or donations.

But these things are also related to other possible commercial prospects (e.g. iPhones are related to phone accessories, service plans, iTunes, apps, etc., etc.) which can explode exponentially so that (now I’m sorry I mentioned them) so that one can become a commercial target for every goddamn thing in the universe. The Internet can become a chain-reaction so that you send an email to a friend in which you mention you had a sore back last week and you are suddenly getting pop-up adds for several different opioids, followed by adds for medicaments for constipation caused by opioids, followed by adds to join class-action law suits about side effects of opioids, followed by rehab classes offered for opioid addiction, or funeral services (because of risk of death by opioids)– well you get the idea, but now you don’t care anymore because maybe you are dead from opioids, which is about the only way you can escape the consequences of having innocently mentioned having a sore back in an email only to receiving an Internet connection that targets you as a consumer of everything in the universe. In Trumpworld everything is for sale—even you.

Oh Capitalism, Oh Googlism!