Jeepers Creepers

21 03 2012

It’s bad enough that some prospective employers are demanding to see your Facebook account. Having a potential boss scrutinize your FB Wall is not only beyond the pale, it is just scary. I cannot ask a candidate about his or her marital status, religious or political preferences, etc. But they can sure be discerned in a heartbeat if someone else is lurking within.

But now there are new apps that users can willingly use to allow complete strangers to know of their presence. Among these is Highlight, a new geolocation-based app that alerts you (and them) when you/they come near people with similar interests.

No kidding. Imagine walking through Times Square only to be alerted by your phone that a potential soul mate is right around the corner. She likes How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory. Bicycle racing. Photography. Pez.

Wait. I just described myself.

Sure, it’s all opt-in, but why in the heck would anyone want to opt for this kind of creepiness?

As I posted on my FB Wall this morning, I am really not interested in finding other people who are like me. It is their otherliness that attracts me to people. Not that I scare myself, mind you (keep your comments to yourself, please), but I value people with diverse interests more than similar. Heck, if all you do is hang out with people like yourself, you’re going to become pretty monochromatic.

More importantly, though, is that these apps open the doors for creepers like none before. If you think having a prospective employer look over your shoulder at your FB is scary, think about the implications of allowing strangers to not only see you coming, but know that you like certain things. You may as well put a bulls eye on your forehead.

It’s not a whole lot unlike the situation I had a few years ago at Gordon Biersch Brewery in Las Vegas. I was dining with Shanna and Charlie, two cycling pals of mine. At the next table were five men drinking beer and cracking jokes.

But I noticed that one of the guys kept stealing a glance at me. I wondered if my hair looked goofy perhaps (not that I have a whole lot, mind you), or if I had a crumb of onion ring hanging from my cheek. Then one of the guy’s companions looked over at me and said, “Hey, he found one of his own kind!”

“Huh?” I replied.

“Your shirt. He totally digs your shirt.”

I looked down. I was wearing one of my favorite shirts from Think Geek. “There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary, and those who don’t.”

The guy continued, “This guy’s a nerd and thinks in binary. He figured you were a fellow geek.”

“Oh. Cool,” I mumbled. I quickly finished my food and said to Charlie and Shanna, “OK, now let’s get the hell out of here. This guy is giving me the creeps!”

Of course, Shanna and Charlie teased me all night long about my new “friend.” And I must admit to having told this story a few hundred times since then, because once the discomfort wore off, I began to see it as rather funny.

But imagine if you didn’t have the benefit of friends with you when someone noticed your shirt, but rather had a big invisible red arrow pointing down at you as your strolled along the sidewalk.

Now that’s scary.

Which is why I won’t be signing on to Highlight any time soon. I have enough trouble keeping my FB Wall free of incriminating garbage. You never know when someone will take a look.

Dr “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Gerlich



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