Computers are creepy.
Years ago, I decided to cut my own hair. Before that, I went to a salon. Not a barber, a salon. When I moved to Gettysburg, the Welcome Wagon, which is simply an old lady who comes to your house, gave me a coupon for a free haircut at Georgia’s Mane Attraction. The hair cut was fine, the price (which I would pay next time) was reasonable. The coupon worked exactly as planned. One free haircut yielded a years-long loyal customer. Every six to seven weeks, I came in for a haircut. I would probably still go there today except I’m terrible at scheduling.
Each visit as I paid and tipped, Maria, my stylist asked if I wanted to book my next appointment. My answer was always the same, “I’ll call when I’m looking at my calendar.” Then I didn’t. Not until five weeks passed, and my hair was already long and driving me nuts. When I called, the schedule was always full. I had to book out a week or two. And my hair bugged the crap out of me until I got it cut.
To fix this, I bought a hair clipper set at Walmart. I still wait way too long to cut my hair, it gets uncomfortably long and after I cut it, the difference is so obvious that people always comment. Susan starts dropping hints around five weeks: “I’m happy to shave your neck when you’re ready to cut your hair…”
Last spring, I decided to buy more time between cuts; I cut my hair on the lowest setting, the one I use to reign in my wild, bristly eyebrows. Wooo, that was short. I thought I looked pretty cool, but Susan thought I looked sickly. My computer thought I shaved my head.
This is the creepy computer part. Immediately, Facebook started showing me ads for head shaving razors. That stupid little camera on my laptop spied on me. Before the pandemic, I kept it covered with a piece of tape. Eli always used this as evidence that I’m an old man. “Look Jonah, my dad covers his camera with a piece of tape, just like an old man.” But I was right. They really are watching, and I don’t like it a bit.
Another targeted ad I’ve received for months is for Punk AF. It’s a beer by a brewery named BrewDog. I saw the ad every time I opened Facebook. I liked the name, which I assumed meant Punk As F*ck. I think the AF acronym is fun. When I bought my truck last year, I planned on buying a Liberal AF bumper sticker. Eli put his foot down. It was the highpoint of protests and counter protests blossoming around the country. “No political stickers,” he said. He wanted our truck to buzz a mellow mountain biker vibe.
I’ve just learned that the AF stands for Alcohol Free. So not only did my computer communicate my love of punk rock to some sort of marketing algorithm, but it also let them know I’m now sober. It really makes me wonder what other personal data is being spewed into the cloud.
Still, I’m intrigued. When I gave up alcohol six years ago, I truly lamented the flavors I lost—wine and beer. The principal non-alcoholic beer of the time, O’Douls, tasted like… nothing. I loved full flavored, crafty beers. I really miss that taste. Still, on the rare occasion that Susan drinks a beer, I always have a sip. From my perspective, beer has only gotten better over the past six years.
BrewDog describes it’s AF line with such teasers as: Tropical fruits and grassy notes and grapefruit treble notes followed by a chorus of orange and pine. This sounds like a giant step up from O’Douls. I sent an email to Susan suggesting that a mixed twelve pack might make a neat birthday gift next month. I’m unsurprised to see now that every alcohol free beer ever made is showing up in my Facebook feed.
Have you tried this new class of AF beers? Please let me know what you think of them. But I warn you, my computer is taking notes.