The other day I was searching for cat houses on Amazon. Now, before you get all excited or start harrumphing, understand I mean cat house as in a house an outdoor cat can take shelter in when the weather turns bad.
A Siamese cat has taken control of our yard, and our front porch when we put food out, but he/she won’t come anywhere near us, so we figured that when the weather turned cold and wet, he/she might like a place where it could be comfortable and dry.
Hence, my search for a cat house. As for the other kind of cat house … well, that’s kind of an outdated term. Maybe I should just leave it as it is.
Anyway, not long after I searched for cat houses I decided to scroll through Facebook. Amidst various political posts of all stripes, entertainment news and those people who share every single post they come across, I started seeing one ad after another for cat houses.
When I went on the internet, every website I clicked on had ads for cat houses ringing the edges. The same thing happened when I looked through cellphone cases on eBay. Everywhere I went in the cyber world afterwards there were cellphone case ads screaming at me.
This isn’t a coincidence. I’m sure it happens to everybody. Sometimes it escapes your notice, but when you do notice it, it can give you pause.
It’s marketing for the new age. Artificial intelligence (AI) knows what you’ll need before you do. Not long after searching for cat houses, I began to see ads for cat food, cat litter and even cat harnesses in case you want to take your furry eating machine for a walk.
AI is used by companies from the giants like Amazon and Walmart’s online business to the small businesses down the street from where you live. It looks over your purchasing history and lets the store/business owner know what you like (or at least have bought in the past) and pushes those items to the front of your computer screen.
This can be helpful. I, for instance, didn’t know you could buy a harness to walk a cat. That could be helpful when you let your house cat out for a spell and it thinks it’s a dog and chases a squirrel around the neighborhood.
It can also seem creepy. What if you’re ordering something super private (you know what I’m talking about) and at some point in the near future, when you’re not even thinking about the order, you have your computer on at work and, while everybody’s looking over your shoulder, an ad for that private thing (you know what it is) pops up on the website that you and your closest 100 work friends, including your boss, are looking at.
Sure, you can throw your hands up in confusion and say, “Where did that come from?” and chuckle. But everybody knows. Oh, they know.Or you can just ignore it, but your face turning a bright red will let everybody know exactly where that item came from. Some will make a note to look it up themselves later, some will never look at you the same again and others will wonder if you actually paid that much for it.
If you’re of a conspiracy bent you can call this “Big Brother” coming into your house, or wherever you’re holding your phone, but all of these retailers don’t really care if you take a bath with your dog. They just want to sell you the right kind of soap.
I can’t guarantee you that the government isn’t spying on you through that 65-inch smart TV that you just bought and now watch 17 hours a day to make it pay for itself. I once heard some of those TVs come with cameras secretly installed and that some NSA employees in Utah have the sole job of watching you in your house.
So, while it’s true your house cat will never tell anybody what you look like sans clothes, those NSA employees are probably pretty bad gossips. Therefore, only take your clothes off in the dark. Probably better for everybody that way.
In the meantime, anybody know how to get a Siamese cat to stop jumping off the porch every time you make the slightest move?