Thursday, April 10, 2008


Given my radical views on privacy, why do I find the idea of clerks greeting me by name and recalling my preferences so off-putting but have no problem with the prospect of computer indexing of vastly greater and more detailed information? Possibilities:

1. I don't like the idea that an actual person has been contemplating me and my actions, especially when they are trivial. To the extent that I consciously shape my identity, this reminds me that what I view as minimally performative actions are part of other's main conceptions of me.

2. The person comes off as stalkery. (May be a function of my gender.)

3. It makes me feel obligated to be friendly to the clerk and I would rather just hand over my money and get out with a minimum of personal cruft.

4. It implies intimacy, and I may not be comfortable being intimate with this person.

Some people apparently like this touchy-feely stuff. I don't, although I don't try to use my personal dislike as grounds for public policy. Give me a database entry any day. Databases aren't creepy, don't demand my attention, and allow me to keep my daily set of personal interactions to a Dunbaresque level.
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