Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Magic Drawing Board

Recently I received this email from our realtor:

The owner of the property you just checked out on Facebook wants to know what you thought about it. On a scale from 1-10, how close is it to what you're looking to buy?


Which house? Oh....that house. Well, no, maybe this house. Hmm...

I responded:

I just like looking at houses! Sorry.

We read all the time and hear on the news about how our data on social media is used by companies looking to sell us something. We understand that, should we do a Google search on end tables, soon a vast array of end tables for sale will appear in our Facebook feeds. 

But this was one step beyond for me. This was very like the moment I had, long ago, when I realized that the Magic Drawing Board on Captain Kangaroo was not really magic, but that a man named Cosmo Allegretti was behind it, invisible, drawing from the back. 

It didn’t make me run screaming from the room. It didn’t make me sign off of all of my social media accounts in fear or disgust. But it really stopped me in my tracks for a moment. It made me think. When I click on these links to look at these houses, someone is watching. And, in this case, it’s someone I know because I voluntarily liked this real estate firm because it is owned by a trusted acquaintance. 

I chose that. I allowed that. So why did it feel so creepy?

Certainly I use social media as a way of sharing things that I think are important. I look to use my social capital to share my enthusiasm for music education, early childhood education, interesting things happening around Columbia and Howard County. And I don’t find anything creepy about that. But when it came to a moment where I didn’t realize how precisely I was being targeted and observed, it felt different. 

It rather felt like a Truman Show sort of moment, if you know what I mean. 

Anyway, this is the house. It’s huge and funky and delightfully dated and someone should buy it. 

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