According to online information, if you live in the Silicon Valley town of Atherton, you probably already know that the average cost of a house there is $7 million and that 94027 is the most affluent zip code in the country. Marketers, political pollsters, and online data dealers also know it. Everyone who wants your money or your vote knows where you live and wants to get to know you better.
We are always worried about data breaches on sites like Facebook because our personal information–zip code, address, shopping habits, etc.–is used by marketers in targeting audiences for advertising. As for Atherton, we shouldn’t be surprised that the town is both affluent and in California because the state has 91 of the United States’ most expensive zip codes.
My first thought is that I cannot imagine buying, much less living in, a multimillion-dollar house, that is, one that’s worth more than all of the houses in my neighborhood. Second, I see one reason California has a homeless problem: regular people with regular jobs cannot afford the housing costs, much less people below the poverty line.
I was born in the San Francisco Bay area, a place I could not afford to live now, and I found that when I identified California on Facebook as my home state, I ran into a lot of trouble in political discussions because people assumed I was not only rich and entitled but probably believed in absurd concepts like sanctuary cities. (I don’t.) So, I changed my Facebook “hometown” to the one in Florida where I grew up. That stopped a lot of abusive, profiler-style comments.
However, it opened up other nasty remarks because most people know I live in Georgia now. The default view people outside the South have of a Georgia resident is that s/he lot only longs for the purported glory days of Dixie and the Confederacy, but is more likely than not a racist. This makes it difficult to have meaningful discussions on Facebook about politics, race, immigration, and similar subjects because I’m suspected of being a white supremacist until proven otherwise. That’s hard to do at a time when the politically correct belief is that all whites are racist whether they know it or not.
We used to worry about a future in which an oppressive “big brother” government controlled everything. The government already knows too much about us. Marketers probably know more. But the most dangerous thing is other people who want to take my state or zip code of residence and pair that up with everything I say or write and then compile that into a worthiness profile that tells them whether I’m with them or against them. The fact that I don’t know who “them” is doesn’t factor into the PC algorithms.
What a mess.
Malcolm R. Campbell
Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing