August 25, 2012

Paying Attention To Ads

Actual Facebook ad on my profile

If I were to pay attention to all the ads that are tailored for me (though their methods for "tailoring" are total crap) I would feel the need to change everything about myself.

I signed up for the LivingSocial and Groupon emails, and also now get emails from Amazon and Amazon Local. My morning inbox gets crowded, and my trash box must be overflowing. The vast, vast majority of those deals are about beauty and weight loss. Body wraps, eyelash extensions, gym memberships, bootcamp classes, hair coloring, liposuction, and so on. Occasionally dental services, which I'm actually interested in, but still many of them focus more on whitening than teeth health. A quite small portion of these ads are for fun events (some runs, even), restaurants, or services and those are the reason I'm even signed up for these promotions.

Then, if I were to listen to Facebook I should be picking out my engagement ring and bridesmaids dresses. Having used Facebook ads for work before, the engagement ring ads I see must target a very wide audience, the requirements being only that the target individual is female and in a relationship. Since I don't include my age or my anniversary date with my boyfriend on Facebook, these advertisers must only be going off the two bits of information I provide them with. I've experienced this with Facebook before, and have dealt with ads that were promoting fertility (along with engagement rings) the last time I was in a relationship and then ads offering help on getting a man when I was single. It seems that no matter what I can't just be happy with the way things are; I always have to be wanting something more. Thank goodness I have Facebook!

Oh, they also have access to my likes and interests. I have a lot of environmental organizations that I like and very frequently post about animals or conservation, so the majority of these engagement ring ads are trying to sell me an eco-friendly diamond engagement ring. Now, I don't know a whole lot about the eco-friendly ring or even the diamond ring industries, but I know how diamonds are mined (think big gaping holes in the earth), leading me to think "eco-friendly diamond ring" sounds a whole lot like "clean coal." It's an oxymoron. I'm sure that makes a lot of women feel great about their rocks, or will convince them to even pay more for them. I'm also thinking that eco-friendly or conflict-free diamond rings are the result of the whole green movement in general, and I imagine rings are more subject to being "green washed" than things like tea and soap.

Even if a ring is "conflict-free" or "as-eco-friendly-as-a-diamond-ring-can-get", the fact remains that the majority of the world's diamonds come from the same place and pass through the hands of one company (which, to be fair, has decreased from 80% of the world production and market to less than 50% in recent years) and diamonds were one of the reasons there was so much war and death in the Congo (which hasn't stopped yet). Diamond mining and production caused a whole lot of other environmental problems, namely the destruction of habitat for war and the extinction or near extinction of many species. Thanks at least in part to the diamond ring industry, the Congolese people are literally fighting for survival and do anything to stay alive today, thinking nothing of depleting resources for tomorrow, which includes killing endangered animals and destroying habitat and mining the earth for pretty rocks.

End tangent, back to the ads: these ring ads are even pushing the get engaged now timeline without knowing (or caring about) the length of time I've been in a relationship, by telling me I can view rings on my phone, order, and then go pick it up in the store with my fiancé. How romantic. Although it wouldn't surprise me to know that people get engaged that way. I know most women want diamond rings and most women want to love their rings, which makes sense considering you plan to wear it for the rest of your life, but to not trust that the love of your life can pick one out that you'd like seems a little sketchy. My sister had the unfortunate experience to go through an engagement she didn't want with the ugliest ring I'd ever seen, in a style she said she explicitly told the guy she didn't want (red flag!), so I get wanting to make sure your ring is something you like. But having it all picked out and telling your man to go pay for it and then give it to you seems to take all the fun and surprise out of it. Ideally (and maybe this is my problem), you'd be with someone long enough for him to get a sense of your style and what you'd like and if he was still having problems he'd feel comfortable enough asking a friend or close relative for help. But what do I know... the idea of diamonds in general isn't exactly appealing to me. It would be difficult to look at something every day and wonder where it came from; even if I were to get an eco-friendly diamond I'd mistrust it and would be more inclined to think the eco-friendly part was more marketing ploy than actual truth. And I don't know if that's something worth wearing every day, much less spending thousands of dollars on it to do so.

Luckily for me, I have a pretty decent body image, generally high self esteem, and am quite pleased with the relationship I'm in, so getting emails for body "enhancements" and seeing constant ads for tying the knot don't phase me too much. Admittedly, they annoy me enough to write a whole post on it, but clearly I've done it before.

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