I might not always know where I am, but thanks to Google, I can’t forget where I’ve been.
Google sent me an email this morning with my timeline for June. It’s a map that shows every place I visited last month. Clicking through the tabs, I see that it knows where I’ve been every day for the last seven years.
And this helps me how?
The email states that the map will help me reminisce about recent trips. I’m pretty sure that if I took a trip worth remembering, I’d remember it.
I suppose if I thought long enough about it, I could come up with ways that this information might be beneficial to me. If I forgot what day I washed my car, I could look back and Google would tell me. That’s right; it was six years ago today.
If I forgot the name of the cigar shop I visited in St. Louis, Google could tell me. Did I put gas in the car yesterday? Oh, yes, there it is. Wednesday, I apparently never left the house. Good to know.
I suppose there could be good uses for other people. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s who wanders off, slip a smartphone in his pocket and Google will track him for you. Or, if a husband needs to prove that he did not go to that woman’s house last week, he can pull up his trusty map. That can work two ways, though. If you have a habit of being places you ought not to be, you might want to turn your phone off before you get there.
A suspicious spouse might be tempted to log into one’s Google account and check the other half’s whereabouts. I imagine the police could get a search warrant to check where their suspect has been. If you can’t find your phone for a day or two, check with Google; it will know where you left it.
I’m not a technophobe. I like gadgets, and I use a lot of these modern wonders. I’m not afraid of social media or the internet. My life is an open book. If you want to know where I’ve been, have at it.
Google knows where I eat, where I gas up my car, where I buy my cigars and how many miles I drive in a week. They’re like Santa Claus without the Christmas presents.
Some of this data collection is just ridiculous, and it can be an interference, too. Like when I go to buy cigars in a city I’ve never been in before and my debit card won’t work because the technology robots have alerted my bank to a possible fraudulent transaction. Not much irritates me more than being unable to spend my own money when and where I want.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a coupon for $10 off underwear. I thought, who couldn’t use a new pair of drawers? So, I used the coupon and paid the balance with my debit card, which is tied to my Google account, which is on file with the store. Now, every time I log on to social media or my email, I get ads for underwear scrolling across the screen.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t need close-ups of male models sporting their drawers flashing across my laptop when I’m checking my email in the cigar shop. It’s hard to explain to the other guys. Plus, it’s wasteful advertising; I won’t be buying another pair of skivvies for another year, unless I get a coupon.
Some of the data collection that takes place falls under “just because they can.” Whatever you’re doing online or with your phone, someone somewhere is tracking it.
The underwear ads underscore the real reason Google is so interested in our lives. It’s because that data can be sold. Patterns emerge that are useful to advertisers.
Some advertisers are more tech-savvy than others. I buy cigars every week at a variety of places, but I never see stogies flashing across my screen. But I buy one pair of underpants in the past five years and I’m inundated with pop-ups.
That’s why I like newspaper ads. They’re not intrusive. Plus, I sell newspaper ads, so there’s that.
© Copyright 2019 by David Porter, who can be reached at email@example.com. It’s a good thing I don’t go places where I’m not supposed to go. Anyone reviewing my maps is going to be bored to tears, unless they’re interested in cigars and, apparently, boxer briefs.