The Big Brother Effect

Yesterday, I received some mail from Air Miles.  Inside were some coupons and offers from different Air Miles sponsors, including Safeway.  I shop at Safeway once a week, and yes, I often buy the same items week after week.  In my Air Miles package of coupons and offers, were 6 or 7 coupons to receive bonus Air Miles when I purchase certain items.  All of these items were items I purchase week after week after week. 

I looked at it, and quickly thought “wow, that is really creepy!” I know retailers have been able to track my purchases for years.  We see it on Facebook with the ads on the right targeted to the items we have listed in our profiles.  We see it in the junk mail we receive because we are on someones mailing list.  But it never really hit me until yesterday when I looked at those coupons for my most commonly purchased items. 

As a normal Jane Doe, I probably wouldn’t think twice about it.  I would look at those coupons and say “great!  I purchase these items ever week, and this week I will get some bonus Air Miles for purchasing them again!”  But since I have started at my new job, I have learned about a project we are doing that will do the exact same thing for our customers.  You buy a book a Chapters, we will know and we will be able to provide offers for similar items in the future.  You have 3 kids who like to play hockey?  We’ll send you discount offers on hockey tickets. 

I don’t know about you, but it makes me stop and think about how much information is really out there about me.  How much do I want to share with the rest of the world on social media sites (a little hypocritical I know, since I just started blogging and it gets posted to my Facebook page when I’m done…)  How much to companies and corporations really have a right to know about me?  True, it’s all about helping companies make more money, but it freaks me out a little bit…


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