Monday, June 24, 2024

OK, Google: what’s wrong with your algorithms since I moved to Mexico?

Dear Google, I get how smart you are. You have algorithms. You have reams of data based on my browsing habits, my shopping habits, whatever other habits I may have from which you’ve gleaned data. You know me better than I know myself.

I realize that’s a cliché, but in this instance, it’s true. You’ve been following me for years. Decades. Lifetimes, perhaps.

I realize my move to Mexico may have confused you a bit. I think this because when I’m “surfing the ʼnet,” you insist on only showing me websites featuring that lovely Spanish language. This despite the fact that I keep choosing search for English results only. Or the fact that I specify English in the Preferences option.

But I get it. You’re only trying to help me improve my language skills, and I appreciate it, I really do. But I gotta ask you: what the heck is up with the ads suggesting I buy women’s clothing and shoes?

I don’t buy women’s clothing. Nor do I buy women’s shoes. Well, I suppose I did buy some women’s clothing once or twice in the distant past. But that was for women. And I learned my lesson. The nicest thing a woman has ever said to me when I bought her clothes was “You don’t really expect me to wear this, do you?”

Again, that was the nicest thing. I won’t relay any of the other comments that have been hurled at me; I’m afraid they would make you blush (I’m assuming here you can blush. Can you?). If I did send you examples of other comments, they’d contain lots of things like # !! @ ***, etc. in them — if you know what I mean. And I’m sure you do since you’re omniscient.

Which is why I can’t understand why you keep sending me the ads for women’s clothing and accessories that are popping up on every goddamn site I visit. American sites, Mexican sites, doesn’t matter. Hell, I could probably go on a Padang, Indonesia, site and I’d probably still get ads for women’s clothing.

FYI, Indonesia’s the country farthest from Mexico, where I’m currently based. But I’m sure you know that since you track everything I search for.

You say the ads are based on the sites I visit. I don’t visit women’s clothing sites.

That might not be completely true. Maybe when things get really lonely — just maybe — I’ll take a very quick peek at Victoria’s Secret, but that’s it. Honestly (and in those instances, it’s just the quarantine that’s making me do it; the isolation’s getting to me).

I do not dress in women’s clothing. I’ll admit that I enjoy women’s clothing, but I enjoy women’s clothing on women. Not on me. And while those shoes popping up on my browser look fabulous and those stiletto heels do set my heart a-twitter, can you imagine me trying to walk in them? Not a pretty image and certainly not one to foist on the general public.

Nothing I do has been able to dissuade you from sending me these ads. No matter how many times I try to tell you — gently — that the ads are “inappropriate” or ones in which I’m “not interested,” you still see fit to tempt me with them. And now I’m beginning to believe you’ve gone just slightly off the rails.

Because now you’re sending me ads for feminine hygiene products. In Spanish. Even if I did enjoy dressing in women’s clothing — and let me say again, unequivocally, that I do not — to what use would I put those fine products? And where, as a man, would I put them? (Rhetorical question, that; no need to answer.)

I’ve started to wonder if there’s a parallel universe where there’s a female version of me who would happily stock up on revealing blouses and skimpy negligee, not to mention stiletto-heeled shoes and feminine hygiene products. If only she could see them. Instead, she’s seeing ads for football jerseys, beer and NASCAR.

So, please, let’s end the confusion. No more ads targeting women for me, and for my female doppelganger, no more ads targeting men. Send me some good ol’ fashion ads for men and, although I may not buy anything, I promise to peruse those sites. Fair enough?

Joseph Sorrentino, a writer, photographer and author of the book San Gregorio Atlapulco: Cosmvisiones and of Stinky Island Tales: Some Stories from an Italian-American Childhood, is a regular contributor to Mexico News Daily. More examples of his photographs and links to other articles may be found at  He currently lives in Chipilo, Puebla.

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