Friday, February 24, 2012

Deluge of Dongs (Or — The Trouble With Google Targeted Ads)

Contemplations on the true nature of my coffee table aside, I tend to keep this blog fairly impersonal. But I’m breaking that rule today to vent about a matter that’s not only personal but also, you know, personal in the way you learn about in health class. The long and medium of it all is this: I bought some underwear. I bought underwear that was such an improvement over what I’d previously been using to shield my pants from my most-of-me, in fact, that it made the previous underwear seem like coarse burlap punishment pants that the especially Catholic might have once worn because of Jesus. Make a note of this, underwear-using segment of my blog readership, that buying the nice stuff has a similar effect to flying in first class, drinking aerated wine or shopping at the nice mall: You can’t go back. I sure as hell couldn’t, and I consequently had to choose between chucking years’ worth of underwear — yes, some of them were years old, and I’ll have you know that they’re in marvelous condition — and starting a new, considerably pricier collection of little inside pants.

I’ve always said that it’s okay to splurge in certain areas of your life. For example, You’d likely get your money’s worth out of a decent mattress, if not all possible bang for your buck. Along those lines, I would say that underwear — the intimates in closest possible contact with your intimates — might also be worth more money than you’re currently budgeting for. So I said to myself, “Fuck it. This is something that is happening,” which is about as enthusiastic as I get, and decided to buy more. However, department stores can sometimes charge more and I didn’t really want to be the weird guy who keeps coming back to buy underwear, so I decided the easiest way of doing this would be to order online. And I did.

That’s when I realized that sparing myself the trip to Nordstrom might not have saved me much trouble. You see, there’s thing thing that Google did recently. Maybe you’ve heard of it — targeted advertising? That service that purports to enhance your online experience by running ads for items you’ve already purchased? Well, guess what’s all over my internet now. Hint: It’s appearing to the left of the next paragraph.

Okay, fine, yes, I bought underwear from 2(x)ist, the company that I’d previously been baffled and annoyed by. (“Is it for gay men? Exclusively? Like, is it marketed that way? Would a guy who isn’t gay ever buy them? And wear them? How do I pronounce the brand name? Why would anyone ever think that’s an acceptable way to spell anything? Have people noticed that I’m lingering in front of this display?”) The product, I must admit, is good. What’s less good, however, is that any site that runs Google Ads now has cameos by dongs whether I’m looking at it at home (“Hi, neighbor glancing in my living room window!”) or at work (“Hey there, coworker. Just doing some work reading. You know, plus dongs.”) Fortunately, the problem is fixable, but I wonder how many other people have encountered a similar issue with this new ad system — not so much that it has betrayed some mortifying secret but more that it’s just being awkward, like when your dog emerges from your bedroom with a pair of underwear and plops it on the table in the middle of a dinner party. (“Funny story, I almost wore those tonight, but then I couldn’t tell if they were clean.”) It’s kind of funny, to me, in the situation that I’ve just now described, but it could have been majorly problematic were the context a nosier, stricter, more judgmentally environment. I can’t imagine why someone would want to work in such a place, but I’m sure someone does.

In closing, if you see dongs on my computer, I’m most likely not looking at some underwear fetish site. That’s just how the internet looks until I buy a different embarrassing thing. Oh, and I really wish 2(x)ist would either make a product whose quality is more on par with its terrible ads or (in order), learn what parentheses are for, call the product line in question something other that Touch and think of something more clever than a hard-soft pun to use in its tagline. My suggestion? “It’s kind of like your penis is dressed like a superhero!” You can have that one for free, 2(x)ist.

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