Why I Refuse To Turn Off Ad-Tracking On Social Media

by Virginia Duan
Originally Published: 

In this age of internet privacy and security, many of my friends on social media remind us less discerning folks about the dangers of sharing all our internet habits with the big social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. They tell us to up our privacy settings, clear our cookies, clear our caches, and either sign out or delete apps that might be listening in.

And I get it.

I totally see the need for keeping our data private and ours. Why should big companies make money collecting, storing, and then selling my information to who knows what? Is my data aggregated with others or is there some thick FBI file on me based on my Google search history in some centralized location where my various writerly queries about sex toys, strangulation petechiae, and the best ways to hide a body triangulate into some highly specific (and yet, not inaccurate) online portraiture of myself?

And yet, despite all these very good reasons to up my social media privacy settings and run ad blockers, I refuse.

At risk of sounding incredibly shallow (not that has ever stopped me), HOW ELSE WILL I KNOW WHAT TO BUY?

If there’s anything I enjoy, it’s a well targeted ad that knows exactly what I need to see in order to part me from my husband’s hard-earned money. (I mean, I make money that contributes to the family pot too, but it amuses me to think of my spending coming from his contribution rather than mine. I don’t know what that says about me, but I prefer not to examine that too closely.)

Without these apps tracking all my searches and dicking around on the interwebs, how will I know what to purchase online? I’m not a particularly trendy person and I hate following Instagram fashion influencers because they make me feel bad about myself — plus I can no longer wander the corridors of my local Target (don’t you dare shame me for finding Target’s affordable fashion so delightful).

Look, they’re going to advertise to me anyway. It might as well be highly relevant products that I want to buy.

Whether it’s in skin care, accessories, clothing, or any manner of household goods and items — very rarely kid-related things because let’s be real, it’s a me-first mentality here — all my favorite things I have bought thanks to Facebook and Instagram ads. The best part is that once I make one purchase, I will be immediately bombarded with more of the same products in the genre! They follow me around helpfully from one social media app to another. They even trail me to the various sites I frequent on the internet!

What a gift that is!

If it happens quickly enough, I may even cancel my previous order and buy a more suitable product from the suggestions!

Do I want a kimono-style dress? They know. Do I want to buy clothes that could only be adequately explained as expensive, giant, oversized sacks? Here are more! Do I love K-pop related jewelry? Check. Do I buy all the South Korean skincare products? ASIAN DON’T RAISIN! Do I want glass tentacled dildos? They ask if I’d like whorls with that. Do I want hype-beast embroidered Japanese Sukujans? Here are all the Asian-inspired sukujans. Do I want pillows styled as corgi butts where the button is a super adorable asshole? YES!

Yes, yes, YES!

I don’t even have to consciously think about it! It’s all preying on my inner Smaug. Give me all the shiny! All the fancy! All the ridiculously cute stickers and stuffies and quippy tees!

Sure, not everything comes as advertised, but I’d say 85% of the time, the product is as described. (Actually, maybe that’s not entirely true, but I have scuttled all the bad experiences into the waste bin of my mind because I perhaps have a really big problem.)

The best part? Whenever I take pictures of my purchases and then post on Instagram or Facebook, I get compliments!! I mean, who doesn’t love compliments? I don’t care if my friends are lying to my face — at my age, I take the props when I can get them. I say thank you and applaud myself for my excellent life choices.

I even pierced five more holes in my ears so that I can accessorize to the fullness I know I am capable of — and if internet shopping isn’t made for filling all my holes, I don’t know what is.

This article was originally published on