the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Facebook

A Better Facebook Targeted Ad


 “Facebook will now use personal information gathered from your activities elsewhere on the Web to more precisely target advertisements on the social network” —

— said the news today, and everyone I know went into panic mode, rushing to opt out of this annoying development, which is precisely what I did.   I certainly don’t want Facebook following me everywhere online, making the incorrect assumptions that because I am looking at some online photos of Brazilian women in bikinis that it means I am planning an upcoming trip to São Paulo.

Facebook is a sneaky motherf*cker.   They presented these new “targeted ads” as a service to the user, as if they are doing us a big favor.

Hey, you — you use Facebook for free and get value from it, right?   And you realize that nothing is for free, so I’m sure you understand why we need to have advertising.  We’re all in this together, right?   We have to pay for all the servers to hold all your cat videos.   And what about the heat in Mark Zuckerberg’s apartment?  You don’t want him to freeze, do you?  Exactly.   So, since we both agree that advertising is required, wouldn’t it be better if you actually received targeted ads for products that you want?

In theory, the argument about targeted ads makes sense.   There is so much noise and junk online, and it is a constant struggle to create an online world that fits the individual user.   And advertising does pay the bills.   Facebook is not the only company that uses our data for targeted advertisement. There is a whole industry of personalized advertisement. Google has been doing this for years.

But the truth is — it doesn’t work. The data is always wrong because, despite what we see in the movies, computers are still pretty stupid. My favorite example of bad advertising personalization is when my friend Rob sent me — via Gmail — a video of his son in Central Park, playing on the swings, and up popped a Google ad for me to join some “Swingers Club” in Orange County, CA.

Facebook trying to figure out your needs as a consumer is similar to you buying a gift for a co-worker that you don’t know very well.  You want to buy a gift that he will like, because you are a nice person, and you don’t want to look like a jerk in front of the others.  So you decide to be a detective and find clues that will help you decide on the ideal gift.  You sneak into his desk drawer at work, looking at his personal paperwork. You google him online, hoping to learn of any special hobbies.  Does he go boating or bowling?  You scan his Instagram stream.   You even follow him home, rifling through his garbage can for clues.

Would all this detective work payoff at the end? Perhaps. Maybe you do discover that he is an avid bowler, and you end up buying him a bowling ball.   What if he already has ten bowling balls, or he only bowls with his “lucky ball.”

We frown on the obvious, because it is unromantic, but the best approach here would be to ASK the co-worker what he wants.

I know.   This concept would forever ruin the joy of surprise at birthday parties, but let’s switch from gift-giving to advertising on Facebook.   Why do companies and marketers waste so much time trying to guess our wants when they could just ASK us?

Imagine that each of us had  an ADVERTISING PERSONALIZATION PAGE on Facebook, run by a conglomerate of marketing and advertising companies.  Each individual user can opt-in or opt-out of the service at will, but those who opt-in will truly get a useful service.  Rather than Facebook following our data like a creepy old guy in a raincoat, we will be honestly tell Facebook about our interests for products and services. So if I am looking to buy a tablet for father’s day or take a trip to Brazil, I would click on these entries on my personalized advertising page, and I will be matched by those companies looking for customers interested in those products.   Once I buy the tablet or take my Brazilian trip, I will unclick these items, and ask for new advertisements — restaurants in New York City perhaps, or bestselling books.

This would be a better method of targeted ads because there would be less guesswork involved.   I would be telling Facebook exactly what I want.   This is the type of advertising engine that I would JOIN.

The Evolution of Friendship on Social Media

Dick:  Hey, Jane, what’s up?  I had a tuna sandwich for lunch.  What did you have?

Jane:  I had a yogurt.


Dick:  Hey, Jane, what’s up?  Did you see what Tom is doing?  All he does is put up links to his own blog posts!  How crude.

Jane:  I know!   What a self-absorbed loser.


Dick:  Hey, Jane, what’s up?  Did you see that Tom has hired six ghostwriters to put up links all day to his own blog posts, and now he has a million followers?!

Jane:  That’s crazy.  Most people are just sheep who can’t think for themselves.


Dick:  Hey, Jane, what’s up?  Did you learn anything from Tom at that seminar on social media?

Jane:  Read my post.


Dick:  Hey, Jane, what’s up?

Jane:  Read my post.  And buy Tom’s new book on social media.  And vote for me as one of the top ten most interesting conversationalists online.


Dick:  Hey, Jane, what’s up?



Dick:  Read my post.  Buy Tom’s book.



Dick:  Everyone, you MUST READ Jane’s brilliant new earth-shattering blog post right now!

Jane:  Thanks, dude!  RT @Dick “Everyone, you MUST READ Jane’s brilliant new earth-shattering blog post right now!”


Dick:  Read my post.  Read Jane’s post.  Buy Tom’s book.

Jane:  Read my post.  Read Dick’s post.  Buy Tom’s book.

Master of My Internet Domain

This is truly pathetic. I had a dream last night about… being on Twitter. Not about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Not about walking with dinosaurs. Not about an orgy in a Parisian hotel room. No, typing dumb updates for strangers, limited by 140 characters.

You realize the only reason I am writing this is because I know this will update on Twitter and Facebook, so this is my way of cheating and communicating to others, to make sure I am not forgotten, like a child star from an old sitcom. This post has no literary value.

I deleted Twitter and Facebook from my iPhone, and it helped. I wrote with paper and pen to avoid the Internet. I talked on the phone. I emailed.

Ok. I cheated. I just went on Twitter and Facebook… to look if anyone mentioned me. Now I have to start the whole week all over again. Sad.

Remember that Seinfeld episode where they tested who was “master of their domain?” This is just as difficult.

Why are you so important to me? Or am I trying to run away from here?

News Flash: Facebook is as Addictive as Twitter

Day One off Twitter was going pretty well. Why? Because there was still… Facebook.

When I decided to test my resolve with Twitter, I wasn’t worried about Facebook because, unlike many of you, I’m not addicted to Facebook. I can take it or leave it. I go days without going on Facebook. Sometimes, I can’t even think of a good status update.

(Mom, I’m sorry this post is going to sound like Chinese to you, but try to follow along. Think of Twitter and Facebook as the digital equivalent of cigarettes and hard liquor).

Facebook is not a “conversation,” and I am mostly addicted to talking in real time. The comments on Facebook come to you in familiar form, like in a blog post. You don’t have to rush to be there every minute or feel like you are missing out on important cultural information or the latest trend. I’m also comfortable being a “broadcaster” on Facebook, which means acting like one of those self-important jerks who sends out links and updates about myself, without caring much about any of you or what you have to say. I can separate myself from the mob.

This is impossible for me on Twitter. I care about complete strangers on Twitter. The interplay of words and emotions is so personal; it feels as if we are in bed together whispering secrets to each other. No wonder I am always making sexual innuendos! Despite Twitter’s reputation for being business and PR friendly, it is a place of intimacy, much more personal in content and concept than Facebook. The conversations seem “real,” and I always forget that 1000 other people are reading my words as I chat with someone about their marriage. You see this happen in real life, in crowded cafes in Manhattan, where the couple seated next to you speaks openly about personal matters, ignoring the fact that you are sitting five inches away, overhearing every word.

Facebook updates tend to be cheery, like “I rocked that new job interview.” Twitter tends to get more of the S.O.S. type of messages, such as, “My grandmother just collapsed! For heaven’s sake, send prayers from the almighty!” You have to be one f*cking cold person to not get involved with others on Twitter, unless your only role in life is to tell snarky one-liners. It is overwhelming, especially for neurotic, codependent types like myself. You need me. And I need you.

(Mom, I know this sound a little batty, but you know what I’m talking about. You’re always making fun of those people on the bus who constantly have their face in their phone, texting. This is what is happening to me!)

So Day One off Twitter was going well. I avoided Twitter. I updated my Facebook status instead… three times. I published a funny photo of Jesus dishes from the 99 cent store. I re-shared and mocked a link about bloggers and brands. I looked at Kyran’s new profile photo. I read about Kathy’s surgery. And then, holy shit, I understood what was going on — I was losing my status as a broadcaster and CARING ABOUT YOU FREAKING LOSERS on FACEBOOK. Am I that lonely? Am I that afraid of being alone?

PLEASE! Leave me alone. I have work to do.

New plan. Start over again. A week without Twitter AND FACEBOOK.

In Support of Lack of Privacy

Younger users online are increasingly becoming worried about their privacy.   We saw this coming, right?

From the NY Times:

Sam Jackson, a junior at Yale who started a blog when he was 15 and who has been an intern at Google, said he had learned not to trust any social network to keep his information private. “If I go back and look, there are things four years ago I would not say today,” he said. “I am much more self-censoring. I’ll try to be honest and forthright, but I am conscious now who I am talking to.”

Many are applauding this movement of younger people embracing privacy.  Parents certainly don’t want their children failing to get into Harvard because of photos of them doing jello shots on Facebook.

Ms. Liu is not just policing her own behavior, but her sister’s, too. Ms. Liu sent a text message to her 17-year-old sibling warning her to take down a photo of a guy sitting on her sister’s lap. Why? Her sister wants to audition for “Glee” and Ms. Liu didn’t want the show’s producers to see it. Besides, what if her sister became a celebrity? “It conjures up an image where if you became famous anyone could pull up a picture and send it to TMZ,” Ms. Liu said.

Makes sense right?  We went a little overboard online during the past few years, didn’t we?

The early years of the blogosphere can be considered either the “Golden Age” or the “Wild West” of social media, depending on your view of this privacy issue.  Right now, there seems to be a backlash against our openness, with “The Wild West” winning out.   In this scenario, we will soon be shaking our heads in disgust at our behavior, as if we fornicating in front of the Golden Calf as Moses climbed Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.

“Who did we think we were — real writers and celebrities?”  we will ask ourselves.  “Did we actually think we were interesting and that we were supposed to EXPOSE OURSELVES to others, body and soul?”

Even in my circle of friends, I hear talk of mommybloggers pulling back and not posting photos of their kids.   There is a growing number of moms who see this as exploitation.

Bloggers have been nasty lately, fighting over what is appropriate to say to each other in public discourse.  Is it any wonder that bloggers are moving out of the public arena and shutting down their personal blogs, like urban folk running away to the suburbs.   Who needs the trouble?

The Wild West Blogosphere of the past few years has been chaotic and dangerous, a virtual Tombstone filled with dead bodies piled in the OK Corral, but it has also been lively, complete with big personalities and human drama.  Blogging would be boring without it.  If you look at today’s list of the “most influential bloggers, mom bloggers, or twitterers,” 99% of them are marketers, social media gurus or bloggers selling a Martha Stewart-style image.  What fun is that?

I see things differently.  The last few years have been the blogosphere’s “Golden Age.”   No one really thought about the ramifications of what they were doing.   And that was pretty radical.  Once privacy becomes central to blogging, what the hell is there to blog about in a personal blog other than the superficial?   Will bloggers now be afraid of “opening up?” knowing that every word will be embedded into Google search forever.

That would be a sad event.   The blogosphere will just be another professional arena.  In the last few years, I learned so much from direct contact with other bloggers — for instance, how rampant sexual abuse is in our society.   I met friends who are alcoholics.  I talked with bloggers with all sorts of illnesses that were once only whispered about only at home, such as cancer.  This sharing online came about for one reason — an agreed-upon  LACK OF PRIVACY.   We would be honest, and expected it in return.   Sometimes we would get judgmental, but mostly the whole point of blogging was to connect.  If the 1960s was all about letting it all hang out in a physical sense, the blogosphere of 2003-2010 was about letting it hang out emotionally.  Bloggers felt comfortable revealing their mental illnesses, their bad marriages, and their bad mothering techniques.  They were not worrying about how this information could be used AGAINST THEM.  Once that happened, it was over.  It becomes too dangerous.  And when even COLLEGE KIDS are afraid of looking stupid on Facebook, you know that corporate, sensible, puritanical America has won.  Oh, sure the drinking, sex, and drugs will continue on campuses across America, but it will always be someone ELSE who was doing it, not us.  The blogosphere will be like “Desperate Housewives” Wisteria Lane, suburban and glossy on the outside, but behind closed doors…

Remember when President Clinton said he smoked pot but didn’t inhale?  Doesn’t that seem silly now?  I thought the blogosphere was creating a new world.  I was already forseeing a future where that type of shit didn’t matter anymore.

Presidential Candidate 2020 Judith Grossman:  “As you can see from my Facebook photos, yes, I smoked pot… alot.  I’m a little embarrassed about that video of that threesome I had in graduate school, but since it is on YouTube already, what can I do?  At least I had a good time.  I know I bitched a lot about my mother on my blog, “I Hate My Mother,” but eventually we reconciled, and now my dear mother is in the audience with me today, my biggest supporter.  Hello, Mom.  Happy Mother’s Day.  My opponent has been playing dirty in his campaign, revealing those tweets I made on the evening of my abortion in 2016, but as you can see this NSFW photo my opponent put up on in 2012, he has plenty of shortcomings, if you know what I mean.  Does America really want this man fighting terrorism at home and overseas?”

I was hoping that people would just laugh at that speech.  Facebook would make all of us equal.  Someone had a gay experience in college?  Yawn.  Who hasn’t?  Your daughter showed her tits at Mardi Gras?  Like YOU didn’t?!

People would be judged by important things, such as kindness and commitment to justice.  I would hate to think because someone writes the word “fuck” on their blog that they might be unable to get a job with a law firm.  In my world, I would ONLY give a job to the person who had the balls to be real.

I am all for privacy.  I hate the data that Facebook collects on us because the purpose is to SELL US STUFF.  And I do believe we need to be careful with our privacy, especially with our families.  But I am not as afraid of the future.  Your kids are already growing up with a world with less “privacy.”  Live with it.  And maybe there is some good to this.  Is it possible that society has kept some issues out of sight and out of mind for two long, under the guise of privacy.  Would we rather live in the 1950s, where we feared sharing our dirty laundry — racism, sexism, rape, mental illness, etc?

As much as I hate the nastiness, trolls, fighting, and lack of privacy of today’s blogosphere, it is much better than a white-washed image of ourselves, filled with glossy filtered photos, constructed to attract PR firms and employees, each of us nothing more than an avatar in a multi-media resumes.

I have a dream.  One day, a proud Jewish mother will be playing mah jonng with her friends, and will go on Facebook to show her friends some recent photos of her daughter in college.

“Here’s Lisa as president of the student body at Harvard.  She has a perfect GPA.  Here’s Lisa with her Jewish boyfriend; he’s pre-Med.  And here’s Lisa showing her tits at the Mardi Gras last year.  She loved New Orleans!”

Send a Kiss


With Valentine’s Day coming up, I’d like to talk about kissing.  One of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned about life is this — women like kissing.   I’m not a natural kisser.  I’m have a feeling that most men are not born kissers.  In my younger days, the kissing was just an excuse to set the clock into motion before my hands came out to feel the woman up.   Who wants to be stuck at “first base!”  If you told your friends that you kissed a girl, you got a big yawn in return.  But if you touched her BOOBIES — then you were a hero!    Even now, at night, deep in sleep, when my mind is at the most open and aware, I rarely have a vivid dream about me KISSING a woman, if you get what I mean.  Well, kissing may be involved, but it isn’t the main goal of the exercise, if you get what I mean.

Even after many years of marriage, I’m not the greatest kisser.   Ask Sophia.   This is very difficult for me to admit to the general public, but I think it is important to make other men feel comfortable with themselves and their less than stellar kissing abilities.   If I can admit it, so can you, Mr. Blogging Guy.  Together we can learn to study and improve, and make our women happier.  My biggest problem is that I’ve never perfected the whole kissing and breathing at the same time.  After a bit, I need air.  Maybe if I fix my deviated septum, then I can breathe better through my nose.  It’s sad, really.  I’ve tried to make up for my less-than stellar kissing in many ways, but it always comes back to the kissing.  Is there a class at UCLA?  I have a feeling that my admitting the truth about my kissing may lose me some important female readership, but I think it is important to keep this blog honest. 

Blogging has only made the situation worse.  I’ve IMed with many women, and have heard countless stories of how important a first kiss can be in making your decision to date someone.  Some of you even REJECT a perfectly good man because of a mediocre peck on the cheek.  You can apparently tell tons of information from the locking of lips:  how good he will be in bed, his earning potential, his social security number, and even what your children will look like.

I have one single blogging friend who likes to tell me the intimate details of her dating life.  She IMed me this morning, telling me about this amazing date she went on last night. 

“I had two orgasms.” she said.

‘Wow.  Did you stay over at his place?”

“No, this was outside the movie theater.”

“You had sex outside the movie theater?!”

“No, silly.  We were kissing.”

“You had TWO orgasms by kissing him?!”

“He’s a really good KISSER!”

Jeez.  Even my Penis was depressed hearing this news.  He likes to believe that he is always the main attraction.

I do remember that, as a teenager, I practiced kissing by making out with my arm, sticking my tongue into the pores and slobbering all over the elbows, until my ARM got fed up and threw me off, saying she’d had enough of my wimpy kisses.

Lucky, the digital age offers a new way to kiss a woman — and a place to live and learn.  It is called Facebook.  Over the past few days, I’ve been getting all sorts of messages that women want me to “Kiss Them.”  And who I am to say no?  So, this morning,  I downloaded this “Send a Kiss” application, all ready to give some hot babes a few orgasms through my virtual kisses.


A few hours later, my bad kissing karma remains — even online.  How the f**k do you use this application?  Am I too old, or stupid?  Am I supposed to be sending a kiss or asking for a kiss?  Do I HAVE to send kisses to “twenty of my friends?”   What is the difference between kissme, most kissed, kisslog, kiss fortune cookie, and kiss crushes?  When did kissing become so complicated?

Maybe I need to first practice on my virtual arm.

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