Get Out Now: The Internet’s Hit List Spares No Man

I’m pretty sure I’m not insane, but if I were, I’d accuse the Internet of plotting to kill me. I’d also dress like Obi-Wan Kenobi, decorate my bedroom with lawn ornaments and scream obscenities at neighborhood cats — but that’s beside the point. Mainly, I’d focus on the Internet thing.

And for good reason. You see, I recently learned from a popular tech blog that two of my favorite websites — Facebook and Pandora — have begun to communicate with one another, sharing my personal information behind my back without my knowledge or consent.

My initial reaction: “Those motherfuckers are talking shit.” However, after quickly suppressing my natural gangster rage, I realized that the situation was far more serious. They weren’t just talking — they were talking about my taste in music. Facebook tells Pandora what bands I like, and Pandora tells me what I should be listening to based on those bands.

Assholes. Who do they think they are? Spying on me? Selling my information to one another? Telling me I should listen to more Arcade Fire? I’d expect this kind of think from Facebook, who is generally kind of a bitch-ass anyway, but Pandora? What the hell, Man? I thought we were cool.

It gets worse.

Shortly after discovering this harrowing betrayal, I logged onto Pandora and was confronted with a small pop-up bubble at the bottom of my screen. It informed me that my old friend Lisa — who I hadn’t spoken to since high school — was a fan of the song I was listening to.

“Lisa likes this song,” Pandora said, like some demon-possessed carnival attraction before, presumably, feasting on the soul of a baby giraffe.

I was mortified. The robots were taking over. I had to save Lisa.

She picked up after two rings.

“Hello?”

“Lisa! You like the song ‘In Ear Park’ by Department of Eagles, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I love that song.”

“You know how I know?”

“How?”

“Because Pandora told me!”

“Oh. Cool.”

“Doesn’t that freak you out?”

“Not really.”

“Oh. Well, uh … What did you think of the ‘Lost’ finale?”

“I never watched that show.”

Maybe she wasn’t worth saving, after all. Regardless, it was clear that Lisa and I had been out of touch for a while — a fact that I immediately remedied by browsing her Facebook page for several minutes. Turns out she studied abroad in Spain, her birthday is in November and she’s still interested in men. Super. I love catching up with old friends.

Here’s what I don’t love about old friends: the fact that those unbearable weirdos can now view all my Pandora stations at will. At will! That means whenever they want. I’m not saying I have anything to hide, but I don’t exactly go around advertising the fact that I still listen to Cursive sometimes. Because I don’t. I swear.

What it all comes down to is privacy. I currently have a total of 763 Facebook friends, approximately 500 of whom I haven’t seen in person for at least a year, and approximately 200 of whom I don’t like very much at all but feel obligated to maintain an Internet-based friendship with because we did some half-assed group project together in a class whose name I’ve already forgotten. Though I have no real desire to be in contact with any of these people, we are now linked inextricably by our presence on the Internet, simply because we frequent a couple of the same websites. The Internet is forcing me to find commonalities with my pseudo-friends and — to connect with them through our musical interests — when all I really want is to distance myself from these people as much as possible and occasionally glance through their Facebook albums while I wait for my Hulu videos to buffer.

The Facebook-Pandora alliance does nothing to make my life better. It doesn’t enrich my music-listening experience, or enhance my personality, or make me more handsome. What it does is tell me that my friend Daniel — an individual whose taste in music I have always deeply respected — has been listening to a lot of Black Eyed Peas recently, which makes me respect him a whole lot less. If a man wants to listen to terrible, terrible music, he should be able to do so in the privacy of his own home, free from intrusion and ridicule.

The Internet is stalking us, watching us, learning our habits and preparing meticulously for the impending robot revolution. Or something. Get out while you can.

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