What Amazon Thinks I’ll Buy


Yes, it’s annoying that big corporations insist on knowing everything about us. And insist on tying everything into big identity profiles ready to be swiped by hackers or sold to marketers. But at least they repay us by being uproariously bad at guessing what we might want to buy. From a recent Amazon list of suggested things I might give them money for:

Amazon's first four guesses about what I might want: earphones, cocktail food, a power cable, and a clarinet.
Deeper in the e-mail, Amazon guessed that I might want a cabin air filter or an omelette pan. They are right so far as I want omelettes, but not so much as to actually do anything myself about them.

OK. Headphones, I can’t really argue with. I’ve got consumer electronics, I’ve got ears. We have a plausible match here.

Nutritional diet for cockatiels. I don’t have a cockatiel. I never have. I can’t get within four feet of a cockatiel without it eyeing me and opening its beak to figure out how it can eat as much of me as possible before I can react. I get enough of that from my friends, I don’t need it from my pets. My best guess: they worked out somehow that my sister had a cockatiel, back during the Reagan administration, and they’re hoping that she still has that bird, that it’s quite old, and that I want to give my sister pet supplies for Christmas. We don’t have that kind of relationship. She takes care of horses, so her wish list consists of incomprehensible pieces of horse gear that, based on the price, are made of high-grade americium lined with platinum, plus some e-books. I buy the e-books.

Lightning cable. Can’t argue that much. I did buy an iPod Touch over the summer, and of course it can’t use any of the estimated 28 USB cables we already had around. Well, the iPod Touch came with this cable, but I’ll lose that one eventually. They’re just premature here.

Mendini Clarinet. Just … no. Amazon, I hate to break this to you, but woodwinds? Me? I’ll have you know I played violin from third to like seventh grade. I can’t say I was the best violin player in the world, just the best one in my elementary school. I was able to always hit the notes you get by just running the bow across the strings, and I was often able to hit the notes you get by putting your fingers on the strings before running the bow. So if you need a scratchy, nearly-in-key rendition of Jingle Bells, the Theme to Masterpiece Theater‘s Non-Challenging Opening Bits, or the musical Cats’s Memory, well, find me a violin and give me some time to warm up again. But a clarinet? Rank foolishness, that’s all there is to it.

Though looking at it … this does seem like a pretty good deal on a clarinet, doesn’t it? Except according to this a three pound bag of cockatiel food normally retails for over one hundred twenty-five dollars and sixty-nine cents and they’re marking it down to ten bucks? Of all the things they think I might buy, they’re putting that alleged fact on the list?

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

16 thoughts on “What Amazon Thinks I’ll Buy”

    1. Yeah, I like how Christmas shopping causes Amazon to go briefly crazy and start guessing that I might want dressage boot cleaning kits and IT management texts. But this is really early for it to go crazy.

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    1. It is. I love it. I also like that there’s this ghostly reconstruction of me that exists in the simulated minds of Amazon and Google and such, occasionally sharing some interest of mine. But mostly the Amazon Simulacrum thinks I’m looking desperately to compare prices on something I bought three weeks ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Regardless of all the masculine, stodgy old sci-fi books I read, Amazon insists that I want to read “Unbound: A Lover in Heat” and “Cowboy Corral: Roping His Heart.”

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    1. Well, to be fair, are we certain from the descriptions that those aren’t stories of time-displaced Sensible Young Engineers From About 1946 overthrowing despotic alien com-pew-ter overlords and winning the hearts of the attractive princesses of Oppressed Humanity?

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  2. I really have enough stuff in my house. I have been trying to rid of most of it for a long time now but doesn’t seem to work. Stuff keeps seeping in through the letter box, shopping bags and people give you stuff too

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    1. The trouble is that stuff has to feel like it’s at home, or else it’ll try returning home. This is why it’s useful to work stuff into craft projects, because that can take bits of a dozen things and turn it into one thing. Then while it’s confused, you can sneak it into someone else’s garage, where they never suspect until the next garage sale, when it won’t sell.

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