In case you haven't noticed it is poltiical polling season. If you live in a battleground state, you probably get several calls a week, in addition to the robocalls. There's also a debate swinging around the Internets about ad tracking. You know that promised land were companies collect information on you so they can serve you the ads you want to see. It's becoming a thing as we approach more of this on our smartphones and other smart devices.
Some companies let you turn this off supposedly. (Well, they do, but they don't.) Some scream bloody murder. I think one guy actually said this was like a core democratic principal or some such thing last week, although I can't find the link at the moment.
Yesterday I got a poll call. It was from the state Republican Committee. For some reason they have in their records that I am a registered Republican. I'm not a registered anything. I do vote more on the Democratic side than the Republican, but I'm not a registered party member either way. I found myself answering questions in the way that for Chicago newspaperman Mike Royko used to advise those confronted with exit pollsters. He told them to lie about how they voted. So, I made up a few things as I answered the questions.
I do the same thing with all of these social sites and shopping sites. When I have the time, I'll frequently search for things that I have zero interest in, just to watch how that affects the ads and recommendations I get. To be honest, before I started doing this, I never really saw ads that seemed to focus on my interest or the things I legitmately searched for. While I'm sure there's some science and some art involved. Mostly I think it is pure guesswork. At least before the age of this kind of data tracking, everyone knew it was guesswork. But the reality is that the databases and the algorithyms used to gain that data aren't as smart as most wish they would be.
Why? Humans don't categorize that easily. Perhaps their interests at certain points do, but in the long run, they are much more complex in their interests than the marketers would like us to believe.
So, if you've got some time, or you get a pollster calling, take Mr. Royko's advice and tell a fib or two. I mean we have to keep these folks employed in order to save the economy, right?