What started innocently enough has recently snowballed into a downright offensive and hurtful attack waged on me by my Instagram account. At first they were slightly annoying, a nuisance at best — those paltry advertisements that muck up my feed and keep me from the important stuff, like the foam on my friend’s latte or where in the world is Derek Blasberg. And while I might have time to scroll endlessly thru social media, I definitely don’t have time for the ads that go along with it.
At first, I bothered to hide these unwanted posts, citing “I see it too often” as my justification for doing so. However, I soon realized that it wasn’t the frequency of the ads that were so disheartening, but rather the ads themselves.
Take, for example, last month’s personal affront: Applebee’s. Ziiing. Yes, I live in the Midwest. And in a suburb. And we rented a minivan once to go on vacation. Yet despite what conventional wisdom would esteem, I’ve never eaten at an Applebee’s. My taste buds prefer something with less national reach.
Applebee’s opened the door for Pepto-Bismol and Clean and Clear Acne Fighting Wipes, last Wednesday and Friday, respectively. So okay… I admit, the timing was rather pertinent, as I’d eaten my fair share of fried, greasy food over the weekend and yes, I did have an unusually large break out on my chin. But how did Instagram know? And wasn’t there a more subtle way of telling me? Maybe recommend a juice cleanse. Or a new concealer.
I’d feel better if these ads were random, kind of like a Starburst pack in which I just happened to be getting all the yellows, but I know better. There’s a formula to these things, as even Instagram will concede: “We want to show you ads from businesses that are interesting and relevant to you, and to do that, we use information about what you do on Instagram and Facebook (our parent company) and on third-party sites and apps you use.” Fair enough. But what happens when said formula goes horribly awry?
This week the whole ordeal came to a head. I got a Hatch Gal clothing ad. Hatch Gal: a clothing brand. For. Pregnant. People. Pregnant people. That is the virtual equivalent of being asked if you are pregnant when you’re actually not. Said Hatch Gal ad was followed a few days later by Aveno baby wash and Buy Buy Baby, complete with 20% off coupon. Nope, still not pregnant but beginning to feel like I am.
So I took a step that I hadn’t in a while and bothered to hide this ad. Filling out the requisite questionnaire and forgoing “I see this too often” for “It’s offensive.” Because really… isn’t it?