Opinion: Web of lies

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About six months into the COVID-19 lockdowns, many of us came to know that we needed another, perhaps larger, pair of sweatpants. While our lungs remained gratefully clear, our arteries were filling with too many snacks and too little movement. With stores closed, we either had to Zoom with no pants or order online. For most of us, anyway, we clicked.

There are scores of options out there promising the sublime and the ridiculous. Eventually, we make our choice and advance to check out. The sites then turn from smiling sales clerk to more ominous back-office sweatshop.

“Give us your personal information! Give us your financial information! Give us your permission for an endless parade of spam from us and anyone who will pay us to direct their harangue at you! Sure, we’ll say that we value your privacy and care deeply about you. But in the fine print, oh, the fine print, we may conceal a bit.”

Once someone decides that we have “opted in,” is there any limit to that license? It is a slippery slope. We should not have peered into the internet abyss. But now we have, and can no more stop, the marketing deluge than we can get the excess super glue from our fingers. We try to unsubscribe. Seemingly, it only makes it worse. We plead to talk to a person. The automated attendant disconnects. We are promised that we’ve been removed. They lie.

Once they have us, will they ever let go? The sweatpants are nice, but the end of the lockdown has paused the ballooning waistline. New sweats are not required. Still, there are fresh messages every day – often two.  Specials, sales, colors, comments on social issues, financing options and reminders of past purchases. Stop! Maybe pant-less was a better option.


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