Lately I’m learning a lot about myself.
More specifically, I’m learning how I look to the marketing algorithms in social media. And it’s far from flattering.
I’d already been thinking about all the ads I get served repeatedly. What do they say about me? About my age, weight, gender? About my socio-economic status and my phobias?
Let’s imagine that I didn’t have a big ego. (It’s hard, I know.) Instead of writing this blog post, I’d likely be booking a therapy session.
The first ad that I noticed I was seeing with too much frequency is for FreeBird boots and shoes. This one didn’t trouble me. I’d found the boots years ago. And while I’ve never bought a pair, I did like their unusual style. And every time they have a sale, I consider breaking down and making a purchase. Score a point for the algorithms.
The next two ads are much more concerning.
The first is for Wall Pilates. What does Wall Pilates say about me? A) Social Media thinks I’m out of shape. B) It doesn’t think I can afford to pay for a bougie Pilates class in a fancy studio. Are either of those things correct? Let’s move on.
The other ads I kept seeing are for [insert drum roll here] stool softeners! And not just the products. Did you know there’s actually a category for stool softener coaching? Me neither.
What is stool softener coaching? I got served a video with a nice lady very matter-of-factly sharing instructions on the best body position to “make things happen.”
But there’s more. Without getting too graphic, she shared choice tips like, making a “Moo” sound while pushing can help. No shit. (Yeah, I went there.) Clearly the internet thinks I’m all backed up. Or at least I’m at the age where I might be hangin’ with Jamie Lee Curtis talking about “yogurt.” Again, let’s move on.
About a week ago, I was visiting with my niece, a great young woman in her mid-20s. She’d said something that made me think about this topic.
Me: “What ads do you get served on social?”
Her: (Thinking) “Plushees, glitter goo, bird-related items [she’s a big fan of ornithology], and underwear.”
Me: “Gee, I get served ads for underwear.” (Pretty sure I didn’t actually use the word, “Gee.”)
But while she was getting served ads for cute, little camisoles with matching panties that display fun and sexy designs, I was getting ads for bras in battleship gray that helped in the fight to keep your back meat from bulging out your armholes.
Trying to console me, my niece confided that her undies are rather uncomfortable. All I could say was, “So is my self-image.”
This morning, I asked my husband, the famed Mr. Parker, what ads he gets served on social media. He thought and said, clothes, hats, and boats. That all made sense. He’s a big shopper, loves his hats and has sailed boats across oceans. Three more points for the algorithms.
Wait. He remembered that The Platform Formerly Known As Twitter is sending him ads for A) improving his dog’s behavior, and B) women’s clothing.
For the record, we don’t have a dog. And in over 25 years together, I’ve seen him try on my shoes exactly once. (Alcohol was involved.) Algorithm fail. Unless there’s something I don’t know. Where’s that therapist?
But back to me. (Remember: big ego) The online algorithms clearly see me as a woman of a certain age who’s out of shape, tight for cash, and can’t poop or control her boob-related back meat.
It’s a grim day to be me. But only if I buy into an algorithm-driven view of how best to market to Honey Parker. I do not.
For the record, I am indeed a certain age. What I’m not is a certain expectation of that age. I could always be in better shape but, for the amount of fun I have, I’m doing just fine and all my bills are paid. Lastly, I used the ladies’ room for its intended purpose (today), and my rack and back meat are under control.
Note: I still haven’t bought those boots and now I won’t. (Hello, polarity response.)
Your turn. What ads are the algorithms sending you? Are they getting it right?
Cheers and stay careful-ish,
Honey Parker has been writing, writing, writing for decades, decades, decades. In there, she has also been a standup comedian, a Hollywood screenwriter, a director, and a co-author of edgy business books. Careful-ish is her debut novel. It is the first in a trilogy. It is comedy-ish.