A blog post in which... ...I ponder the impact of our search overlords
There’s this man. He brings a huge truck and he parks it along the end of our houses. It’s not really in the way where it is, so no-one minds that it’s there. Over time it just becomes a part of our lives and we barely realise that we’ve just grown to accommodate into our daily routines.
One day the man comes up and says, “I’m just sitting in my truck all day doing nothing, and I have pretty good relations with a lot of people around the world, if you need anything tracked down, just ask”. It seems too good to be true, but we start asking and he starts returning. He doesn’t actually fetch things for us, but he puts us in touch with people who can. The more of our neighbours who used him, the better he gets.
A while later he comes up and says, “You know, My truck is just sitting there, perhaps I could collect all the mail for your street. You can come and get it from me, it’s only a short walk after all, and think of the convenience – I have a big storage area so I could hold onto your parcels and all, save you room”. We need to remember to check in with him every day, but yes it does seem convenient. It’s free and he’s got enough storage for all of us.
A while later he comes up and says, “You know, I could store a lot of other stuff in here as well. I’ve got enough room for you to get rid of a lot of other stuff too; keep your house tidy.” Seems good.
Next time I go to collect my mail he stops me and asks if I’ve heard of this new magazine that’s coming out. “It’s really suited to you I think – I’ve been monitoring the mail you get and the things you store with me and I’m pretty sure it’s right up your street. Here’s a flyer – call them if you fancy trying it.” Odd.
Next time I go to collect my mail he does the same. And the next time.
We used to have quite a mix of smaller vans and cars coming along that road, but there’s no room for them now. We don’t miss them though, and the man doesn’t seem to recommend them in any searches he does for them. I guess they’re just not as good as we used to think they were or more people would still need them.
I ask him to get me a new DVD and when I come to pick it up he first offers me three others that I have no intention of buying. “Sorry,” he says, “but these people have paid me to try and get you to buy these first.” Not much of a hold up with just three, but a bit inconvenient. Still, it’s a free service so what should I expect. As I leave he says, “This new shampoo is just what you need. I saw the letters you’ve been sending your sister and I agree that you probably need some more control.”
I pop down to find out the address for my cousin – it’s on the letter she sent me, and why bother writing it down elsewhere when his truck is always there? No problem getting it, but he makes me sit down and watch a short video first. It’s about a new car I probably won’t ever get, but it seems strange. He’s still free though.
When I came out yesterday the truck was gone. Taken away for maintenance said the sign. He was back in the afternoon, but I missed a deadline for sending in a job application as I needed to double-check some facts in one of the magazine articles that I’ve started letting him collate for me. Perhaps I could do what my neighbour did and pay him to let me keep a copy of the articles in the house.
This morning, the truck is gone. I have an invoice through my door, and apparently I can have personal access to it every other day, for a fee. The man has also promised to stop reading my mail and going through my things if I pay him double.
I think the strangest thing is remembering why we trusted him so much in the first place. And I’m sure that truck was smaller when it first arrived, that it didn’t block quite so many other roads.