Big brother

Facebook Marketplace put an ad into my timeline from somebody in Wandsworth trying to sell a Cupid doorknocker identical to the one I photographed on my blog the other day.

This is the one. I am unashamedly using it as a blind tie for the beautiful blind Lou made me.

They want £20 for their one. It’s a nice enough piece that it might fetch that price. But surely there’s something blooey about the algorithm here. I’ve already got my cupid knocker and I’ve posted a photo. Why, my dear AI, do I want to spend £20 for another one – and one that’s much more tarnished? Oh yeah I mean patina.

Nice to see one just like mine. But I feel slightly violated…

Long ago, in the name of convenience, I gave away all my privacy. The bludgeon was called Facebook Messenger. And it was a conscious decision, because it had to be. At the time, we were all using it. Messenger adjusted their terms of service and made it very clear. “We own you. All of you. Forever. Otherwise you can’t talk to your friends! Click this easy button. Sanctus. Spiritus.” There was a pop up and I remember avoiding it and ignoring it right up until the wall when I had no choice. And then, for the first time, with a heavy heart, I chose to sign my everything away.

Other companies followed quickly. Before long it was pretty standard to be asked to sign away your information in perpetuity to some app that swaps your face. A bit like the profile apps that crop up where you send an HD photo and sign your everything away and it gives you a momentary flattering cartoon and the lifelong possibility of being the subject of deepfakes. I’m angry with myself about how much I’ve handed over in the course of my life, and that’s not even taking into account this blog. I write things here every day where I actually try to speak truth and not manipulate algorithms, and I do it in a world where I know I could work to hook it into money and advertising – and I’m expected to do that and billed accordingly by WordPress. But I don’t. And who knows what I’ve signed up to with WordPress! I remember being on the phone to a woman at, asking what had happened to a balance from a few years previously. “If you don’t log in for X time, we take your balance at X rate. It’s all in the terms and conditions you agreed to when you signed up.” And so it falls out. The terms and conditions. “Nobody ever reads them… Are you honestly telling me that you’ve absorbed over £200 because I didn’t log in, and there’s nothing you can do to get it back to me?” “It was in the terms and conditions when you signed up.” Thieves. That was a long long time ago. Pacific Poker. I don’t think it exists now. But it was a useful early lesson in how little anybody gives a fuck once you’ve clicked okay to the wall of text you get when signing up.

What’s the solution? I think maybe there needs to be a layer where, outside of the full legalese, any company has to give a clearer description of the potential misunderstandings… Problem is, that’ll only make more money for solicitors, and the true problems in the running will still be glossed over if a failure in understanding or observance will be profitable to the company. Like the evil at the heart of the idea that your actual fine for the thing is double what it should be but you get it half price if you pay fast. But… Argh.

I don’t want to buy a knocker that I already have and am using. But … by writing this blog and knowing how shit the AI is, I’ll likely be sent more photos of doorknockers. And … Even though asking price is never value – especially in London – it’s good to see a low asking price and thus an even lower value for a thing that I just casually decided to use as an attractive detail with my blind. I knew it wasn’t valuable. Good to get a second opinion for free. Maybe that’s enough…

But I want to revoke the privilege I gave to these sites. I don’t want meatface to be able to render me comprehensible to his empty friends. I suspect I’d lose all functionality, and I’m sure I’ll get lots of bullshit links now telling me to copy and paste some sort of titbiscuit into my timeline. But it’s just such arse. I hate having to put up with my timeline feeding me what it thinks I want to read, when I remember the glory days. I know what a timeline can be. A time line. With no curation. Oh Gods. Wasn’t it great before the advertising people plopped in? But … that’s their job – to be BUYSatan. And a beautiful random thing was utterly fucked forever by “yeah but where’s the money?” Bastards. Some of them are my friends. None of them will take full responsibility. They’ve got families. Sure they were part of destroying something wonderful and replacing it with a wet plate of shit. But hey, check my Instagram kids photos! PS They’re watching you.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: