Becoming Aware. Of Delicious Things Like Dell, Fine Wine & Chili Cheese Fries at the Bowling Alley.

Less customization. More personalization.

That's what the world is coming to, after all. And as tricky as a concept to grasp in real terms, my biggest fear is that less customization and more personalization is actually going to turn us into a nation of droids marching to one set of drums. A highly technical set of drums operated by an engineer or rocket scientist instead of an artist or musician. Therein lies the problem. By embracing personalization, we are letting go of free will.

It's no longer a matter of being stupid, but of being consciously ignorant. (I think history proves a solid case against this plight...I'm just saying...)

Take a look around and become aware.

There are myriad shopping sites that log your buying preferences, browsing histories, sizes, styles and more. Then they populate their sites with content they think you will like. They "personalize" it for you. (A conundrum of sorts, if I do say so myself.)

The new search mechanism from Microsoft - called bing - uses sophisticated technology to provide "smarter" content based on intuition and learning paths of information. Another way of saying it will provide you with links that IT feels you should find interesting. Again, an example of taking away your option to see something you may not know exists.

A recent visit to a Tiger Direct store in Chicago found me face to face with a sales bozo who basically whistled through his teeth in boredom as I chatted about my technical & practical requirements of a netbook. Then he responded to my question of comparing a Dell Netbook to a HP Netbook with a smarmy answer of, "No comparison. Dell doesn't exist within the confines of these walls. Who is Dell? What is Dell? I don't know what you are talking about." Not only was I totally pissed that he thought me an idiot, but I immediately vowed to purchase a Dell. Just like the one I am typing on now. But, I digress. The real hurtful thing here is that I know Dell exists. And I like their products for the most part. But I was making an attempt to understand more about something that I was not an expert. And when I went to a self-proclaimed expert, he basically told me off. Essentially he took away my choice to find more information. More personalization should not mean less autonomy.

Shopping at the grocery store, my receipt prints out a few coupons for items I just purchased. Not only does this scratch the itch of mildly irritating behavior (to hold a coupon that I KNOW I will lose by the next time I need to purchase 24 rolls of toilet paper and boxed wine in the same grocery trip. Ugh) but also makes me slightly nervous that somewhere someone is laughing about my tendency for cheap wine and lots of buttwipe. Geesh. I want the choice to buy my crap (literally and fuguratively) but I also want the option of making a choice in the first place.

It all comes down to this: the Nintendo Wii mentality. Not that I am blaming our monotonous society for this fun game. I like the game....I'm just didn't grow up on it. Here are two examples that show both sides of the spectrum of what happens when we get lazy;

1. I recently played bowling on Wii with a 13-year-old boy who had never been to a real brick and mortar bowling alley. What a shame.

2. I was chatting with a casual acquaintance about her recent purchase of a Wii for the workout program. Trying to lose a substantial amount of weight as a goal, she asked me if I had played. I said I had and she quickly said she thought so. I asked her why she assumed I had played and she said she could tell because I was in pretty good shape. Mind you...we were not playing, nor near a playset at this time. Instead, she confessed to me that the only reason she had yet to start her workout regiment on Wii was the fact that when she first hooked it up and jumped on, her little personalized character wharbled up to a obese little whale and pudged up to 350 pounds. (Because she weighs 350 lbs., but still...I thought it a little harsh.) So she wants to lose a few pounds so her little character doesn't look like "such a fat little pig." I wanted to scream, "ARE YOU STUPID?" But instead I swallowed the grape juice my nose seemed to want to squirt at her face and quietly hung my head in wonderment. She is an engineer. A brilliant lady with amazingly beautiful blue sparkling eyes. And ignorant to the core about things that have been far too personalized. What a shame.

3. So what do you do? Get mad as hell, I suppose. 

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