“I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’ garden in the shade
He’d let us in, knows where we’ve been
In his octopus’ garden in the shade.”
I was at my in-laws’ house tonight when my phone rang. Usually I don’t answer unknown numbers, but I was curious to find out who was calling me at 8:43 on a Friday night.
Turns out it was an automated call from my grocery store. Apparently the cucumbers I bought at the end of last week have been recalled due to salmonella contamination. The store was calling to warn me not to eat them and to let me know that I can get my money back.
Stop and think about that. You can even go back up and re-read what I wrote. The GROCERY STORE CALLED ME to let me know about a problem with the CUCUMBERS I bought LAST WEEK!
I hear a lot of people complaining about the erosion of privacy in this internet age. Data is ubiquitous and the amount of information out there about each one of us is far reaching and multi-faceted, kind of like an octopus with many arms. There’s info scattered here and there – and this info has ALWAYS existed. But never before has it been so easy to gather these diverse bits and baubles about an individual in a useful and meaningful way.
When I first got the grocery store call, I was horrified since Megan’s already eaten one of the two cucumbers. Then I was a little freaked out that the store knew EXACTLY what I’d bought and when, even though I willingly swipe my little keychain card in order to get loyalty discounts on food and gas. But ultimately, I sure am willing to share the knowledge of what I buy in exchange for discounts on food and gas. And I like the fact that technology and market tracking empowered my grocery store to call me – and that they cared enough to do so. I’m well aware that they care about the bottom line and maximizing shareholder profit more than my personal heath and well-being. But I have always believed that taking care of customers translates to a healthier bottom line. And I’m pretty happy that there is at least one company out there using the myriad pieces of info they are collecting about me to actually BENEFIT me in such a concrete way.