POLLY VER­NON

ON LEARN­ING OF the Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica Face­book data scan­dal,

Grazia (UK) - - Fashion + Beauty Charts -

my first re­sponse was ab­ject smug­ness. ‘ Well, I’ve never been on Face­book,’ I preened, like some kind of ve­gan. ‘I am un­touched by the icky fin­gers of dig­i­tal shadi­ness! I am pure! I’m also jolly clever. The rea­son I avoided Face­book in the first place was be­cause I fore­saw some­thing deeply dodgy ex­actly like this hap­pen­ing.’ That last bit ( in par­tic­u­lar) is ut­ter balls.

The real rea­son I never went on Face­book was so that peo­ple with whom I’d de­lib­er­ately lost touch couldn’t track me down and make me look at pic­tures of their kids on World Book Day.

Once I’d over­come that lit­tle delu­sional out­burst, I started won­der­ing in what ways the in­ter­net and its das­tardly al­go­rithms had done me a mis­chief. While I’m not on Face­book, I am on Twit­ter and In­sta, and I have, on oc­ca­sion (/ev­ery 11 wak­ing min­utes or so), googled stuff. What im­pact does such on­line noodling have on an off­line life?

On the one hand, I’d say bug­ger all. Mostly, it’s like the in­ter­net’s never even met me. My Ama­zon rec­om­men­da­tions are in­sult­ing, the in­ter­net hav­ing missed my fe­ro­cious in­tel­li­gence, pos­si­bly be­cause it doesn’t re­alise my ob­ses­sion with The

Real Housewives Of Cheshire is based on a pro­found an­thro­po­log­i­cal in­ter­est and not, say, a mind­less de­sire to copy ev­ery­thing Dawn Ward has ever thought, said or worn. As for my Twit­ter Fol­low rec­om­men­da­tions, well! The in­ter­net clearly has no ap­pre­ci­a­tion of how many peo­ple I hate. No knowl­edge of the blood feuds, the in­tel­lec­tual fat­was I harbour. ‘ Why not fol­low Xxxx Xxxxxx?’ it says, gaily, when what I ac­tu­ally want to do to Xxxx Xxxxxx is smack her in her in­ex­pli­ca­bly pleased-with-her­self chops, only Twit­ter doesn’t have a click-through op­tion on phys­i­cal vi­o­lence.

At the same time: oh! Our dig­i­tal over­lord re­ally knows how to make me buy clothes! ‘Hey, babe!’ it says – via the medium of a pop-up ad, each time I pre­tend I haven’t just pulled up the Mail On­line home­page again – ‘Re­mem­ber the boots you loved on Net, but couldn’t af­ford? Here they are again! Aren’t they purdy?’ And again, when I take a whirl round Whowhatwear; and again, on Gmail (‘ You still have these in your bas­ket, Polly Ver­non!’)… Un­til, fol­low­ing a war of pop-up ad at­tri­tion, I give in to what sud­denly feels like a fash­ion in­evitabil­ity… I buy the damned boots. If the in­ter­net hasn’t quite got the hang of my per­son­al­ity, it re­ally knows its way to my wal­let. I have a sneaky feel­ing that’s where its in­ter­ests truly lie.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.