Monday, November 5, 2012

Who is Watching Me?

            A few days ago, I was watching a television show on the internet, and an advertisement that caught my attention played before the video loaded. Usually, I tend to ignore the commercials that play while a video is loading, but this one intrigued me. The advertisement, a commercial for Lowe’s MyLowe’s program, depicted a scenario in which children had painted on a wall. The commercial claimed that MyLowe’s would tell you the exact color of the paint previously used on the wall. By signing up for the program, MyLowe’s  can provide you with information on the color of paint you previously used on your wall by tracking your purchase history, and allowing you to view it at any time.
            As I watched this commercial, several advertising techniques stood out to me. Fear was used, in the idea that you might not be able to remember the correct paint color to use if you ever need to repaint a section of wall. Peer pressure was also used when other people were shown acknowledging that MyLowe’s is a useful tool to have. However, the advertising method which stood out most clearly to me was the use of data mining portrayed in the commercial.

            At first, the possibility of being able to keep track of your previous purchases seems like a good idea, and there are many benefits to the program. However, there is also the potential for this information to be abused by others. For example, if someone were able to hack into the database, he would not only have access to your purchase history, but also to your first and last name, your email address, and your zip code, all required in order to sign up ( . This would not only allow a potential thief to easily locate your address, but also, by looking at your purchase history, one would be able to determine the items you own and your approximate income.
            The idea of the MyLowe’s program shows how our culture is focused on convenience. By having all of our information gathered into one place, we are able to have access to it quickly, and whenever we need it. When things like this don’t work, we tend to become frustrated. We want to have a way to keep track of all the details of our lives, so that we don’t have to remember all of the small details. At the same time however, we are afraid of revealing too much information, and of who might have access to our information. We don’t like the feeling of being “watched,” but at the same time, our lives are so busy that it is difficult for us to remember everything without some form of assistance.
            At first glance, the Bible may not have much to say about data mining, but it does speak about having someone watch over us. Psalm 121:5-8 tells us, “The Lord watches over you-the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (NIV)” As Christians, we still have to remember the details, but unlike the rest of the world, we don’t have to wonder who might be watching us. Instead we have the promise that the Lord will watch over us and protect us.

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