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The Great Facebook Marriage Experiment, Part 4: life as a married man - Tactical Ninja

Aug. 27th, 2014

09:21 am - The Great Facebook Marriage Experiment, Part 4: life as a married man

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Ok, so you might remember that as an engaged man*, Facebook showed me a lot of ads for travel, jewellery valuation, television, and thermal underwear. And that horrible one about how my fiance should have her stomach stapled.

We got married on Sunday evening. It was apparently a lovely ceremony, held in Iceland, with flower girls in pink chainmail, UV-reactive sheep, elephants on unicycles, and a whole lot of whiskey with fancy labels that I know nothing about. In fact, I know very little about the wedding at all, because all I did was change my status on Facebook from 'kihloissa' to 'naimisissa'.

But oh, what a change that one little click made. Within 5 minutes, I was getting ads for such exciting things as shopping sprees with the kids at New World*, courses in management, and how to get my business better known through social media. The ads for travel disappeared, apart from a very persistent one that showed my (young, thin, white, blonde) Aspirational Wife shopping like a demon in some unnamed Asian market. What I gather from this if you're a man, once you're married, Things Get Serious. No more frivolous travel for you, it's all about building your business to make money so your family can go shopping!

Can we all say "Gender-normative stereotypes for the loss"? Why yes, yes we can.

But it gets worse.

The ad for stomach stapling that first appeared when I became a man, has upped its game. For those who want to see what being a married man looks like, ad-wise, feast your eyes on this:





Yep, Facebook is now telling me my wife is fat and needs surgery to look "like you won't believe!" - at least three times a day. I originally thought this ad was only shown to men, but I have a female friend with no relationship status who says she also gets it sometimes. So I'm thinking maybe there's an element of randomness in the mix too.

But did you notice the ad above it? Yes, I can get psychic relationship counselling! Whee! Of course, I never needed relationship counselling, psychic or otherwise, when I was just engaged. Now I'm married it's apparently all downhill.

The other ads I'm seeing a lot of now I've been married for a long time (three days!), are ones that tell me I should shower my wife with jewellery (not the valuation ones from before but full-on "See how these sparkly earrings will look on her lovely lobes" type ones) and health spas. Because now I'm married I have to Provide Luxuries For Her! Also, I should be buying a DVS system to keep my (white, thin, pretty) Aspirational Family warm this winter, getting Sky Sport***, and buying ceiling paint.

From this I conclude that life as a married bloke is all about doing DIY, watching sport and being a provider. And telling my wife to lose weight so she can look like Asia Shopping Lady. I'm actually kind of horrified at this. I mean, I know that these stereotypes exist, but I thought in this day and age they wouldn't be rammed in your face quite so blatantly.

Anyway, my wife and I have decided to give it another few days to see what else the algorithm throws at us****, then get a divorce. I will live as a single man for a week, then I'm going to be a 13 year old girl in Somalia, and see what happens with that. Any suggestions for other demographics I could cover, gratefully accepted.

* Backstory for those who are new - I'm messing around with Facebook's targeted advertising algorithm by changing my relationship status and gender, to see what assumptions are made about people's consumer desires based on these factors. I haven't filled out any interests at all, so hopefully what I'm getting is pretty generic and therefore not confounded by my own nature.
** NZ supermarket chain
*** Dedicated pay TV channel that shows rugby a lot I think (according to the ads)
**** My wife has not had quite such obviously stereotypical ads, but she's been fiddling with the interests and friend-likes to see what that does to hers, so it's a bit different from mine.

Comments:

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From:dianavilliers
Date:August 26th, 2014 10:22 pm (UTC)
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Part of my rationalizing of the use of add-block is that I believe that the advertisers are knowingly mounting a direct and deliberate attack on my mental health in order to sell products which are at best effective and at worst dangerous.

I'm not going to cooperate with that.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 26th, 2014 10:24 pm (UTC)
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I find the way the algorithms work both amusing and informative. I also have the knack for mentally screening them out if I so choose.

And I enjoy messing with it to see what happens. ;-)
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From:fbhjr
Date:August 26th, 2014 10:34 pm (UTC)
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When my wife and I had trouble a few years back I never even considered a psychic. I guess that was my bad.
Of course the real ones don't advertise. They send you advice unasked and charge your credit card they read from a distance...
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From:tatjna
Date:August 26th, 2014 10:38 pm (UTC)
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I'm pretty sure I found a couple of relationship psychics phishing in my spambox this morning. They weren't psychic enough to know I don't actually need a bigger penis so I can terrify my girlfriend though.

Short aside - I wonder if there is anyone out there who actually wants their girlfriend to be terrified of their penis?
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From:richaarde
Date:August 27th, 2014 01:38 am (UTC)
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As a single gay man in my late 30's, the ads I get are one of the following four categories:

-Underwear/swimwear ads (A little too old and chubby for what they're selling)
-HIV studies (the sheer number of them astounds me. I would have figured they knew everything about HIV and AIDS by this point. Fortunately, I've managed to avoid that particular bug, so I'm not what they're looking for)
-Gay cruises and vacations (Meh. No interest)
-Matchmaking sites (Also meh. No interest)

Granted, I haven't filled in many of my interests, such as movies, music, sports, etc., so I wonder if changing those would change my ads.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 27th, 2014 01:46 am (UTC)
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Interesting.. I got none of that as a woman married to another woman. And yeah, I am surprised and a little eyerolly about gay men being offered HIV studies - I thought society got over that connection years ago!

Also, I need to add 'single gay woman' to my list to see if I get bikinis and dildos. Clearly.
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From:meathiel
Date:August 27th, 2014 05:30 am (UTC)
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Oh - I've had that "You won't believe ..." ad as well!
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:August 27th, 2014 08:12 am (UTC)
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Did you notice how those two ads appear *together*?

"You won't believe what she looks like now" and then you look up and see those two silhouettes. So apparently stapling her stomach turns you from a happy, smiling couple into two slim, pouting singles. Now that's an ad I can believe in!

Edited at 2014-08-27 08:14 am (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:August 27th, 2014 07:17 pm (UTC)
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Hahahaha!
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From:siduri
Date:August 27th, 2014 11:55 am (UTC)
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This is exactly why I block all this stuff when I can-and do not use FB at all. Interesting experiment, though! Very revealing.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 27th, 2014 07:21 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, it seems most people prefer not to see the ads. I'm just a wierdo! ;-)
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From:girlguitarist
Date:August 27th, 2014 05:12 pm (UTC)
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All the crazy things I miss with AdBlock! I'm always astounded by the advertising world that exists under it...
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From:tatjna
Date:August 27th, 2014 07:21 pm (UTC)
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I get hours of entertainment from it. But I think I might be in the minority - most people seem to find it annoying and block it.
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From:plantgirl
Date:August 27th, 2014 07:20 pm (UTC)
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As a downside to gushing about how amazing our wedding was going to be with elephants on unicycles, I now get suggestions to "like" every Facebook group with any connection whatsoever to elephants. And there are a scary number of them. Also lots of groups for body painting.

Sadly no groups having to do with sheep, or unicycles, or any type of cycles. Or chainmail. Or photographic services.

Since getting married the only ad that's been consistent is multiple variations of Macy's ad for a Wedding Registry, and a local chain that delivers sandwiches very quickly.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 27th, 2014 07:22 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, it's a bit strange - NOW I'm getting ads for engagement rings.
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From:du_secondaire
Date:August 27th, 2014 07:47 pm (UTC)
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This is amazing, haha!

It's weird, I don't get too many age/gender/relationship status ads beyond some occasional engagement ring-related "hey, we've noticed you've been in a relationship with the same bloke for like half a decade, isn't it time you badger him into proposing?"-type BS.

I did get one for an Indian dating service and shops that sell traditional Indian clothing, which is rather odd, as I am not Indian.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 28th, 2014 01:33 am (UTC)
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Hahah, did any of your friends go to India? That seems to affect it according to my wife.
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From:pundigrion
Date:August 28th, 2014 01:30 am (UTC)
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Okay, now this is a theme wedding I can get behind!

But won't the pink chainmail get snagged on the UV-reactive sheep's wool?
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From:tatjna
Date:August 28th, 2014 01:32 am (UTC)
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Probably, but that just adds to the entertainment.
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From:adam_0oo
Date:August 30th, 2014 04:48 pm (UTC)
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Is ceiling paint different than regular paint?
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From:tatjna
Date:August 31st, 2014 05:44 am (UTC)
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Y'know, I actually googled that. And it turns out there's no such thing as regular paint. You got your wall paint, your exterior undercoat, your primer.. and ceiling paint, which is special because...

Basically it's stickier, and only comes in white.
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