What happened last night was just plain creepy. I’ve heard stories of it happening to others but being the type of person I am, I chalked it up to coincidence or cross-advertising between platforms. It’s not that I don’t believe it could happen; I just look for the logical explanation by default.
Yet, while I am extremely logical and analytical, I still have an open mind and believe in the possibility of things many others would scoff at.
Aliens, for instance. I believe in the possibility of aliens from other planets. It’s a big universe out there. I mean, I’m not sporting a tin foil hat or anything, but I can buy there is most likely life on other planets. Even conspiracy theories, I can see where some of those could be true. I’ve met some pretty dubious people in my life and one or two people whose manipulation skills are so outstanding I’d almost respect them if I didn’t want to throat punch them. With enough resources, I could totally see them sitting behind a desk, dressed in a blue/gray suit, stroking a cat with their pinky to their mouth and demanding one million dollars.
On the topic of aliens, I can even buy they may have visited before and the government is hiding it from the public. Seriously, can we blame them? The internet would implode with “thoughts and prayers” and arguments over whether they should be welcomed or destroyed if proof of aliens visiting our planet would ever be released. There would be riots in the streets. Fanatics would be heralding the end of time. Again. People would start stockpiling weapons. Weapons, by the way, that would most likely be useless against aliens who had already figured out how to travel across the galaxy, but that is neither here nor there. There would be memes. Sooooo many memes. There would be businesses popping up selling “anti-alien” serums and people would buy them.
Tell me I’m wrong.
So, yeah, I don’t actually think that’s happened, but then again, who knows.
Anywho, back to my story.
So, yesterday, I decided I was going to make my husband’s favorite dessert, peach cobbler, for dinner. Of course, we didn’t have everything we needed, so off to Aldi I went. As I enter the door, my eye is caught by a cool little funnel cake funnel with mix in it.
In the cart it went and I commenced with shopping. Fast forward to that evening. During dinner, references to using all the butter didn’t even register. I had failed to check the butter status before going to the store. I tell my teen daughter to clean up the kitchen, so I can make the peach cobbler. Then my husband brings up the possibility of adding apples or peaches to the funnel cake mix and maybe having that. We go back and forth on it. He ultimately decides on the peach cobbler. I start to break out the stuff.
Funnel cakes it is then.
“Um, a funnel cake recipe just popped up in my feed,” my husband said from his chair, where he had been enjoying his Father’s Day and scrolling through Facebook.
“Did you search for recipes when we were talking about adding fruit?” I asked because that is the most logical reason something as random as a funnel cake recipe would pop up on my husband’s Facebook page, considering I’m the recipe hunter in the family.
“Noooppppeee,” he said.
(Insert Twilight Zone music.)
Now, I believe coincidences do exist. I also believe things can exist that go unnoticed by us, until the moment we start talking about them or interacting with them.
But, funnel cakes that I or my husband hadn’t even thought about until I walked into that store and got suckered by my impulse buy tendencies?
I have run all the possible scenarios, all the possible explanations in my head and the only logical explanation I can come up with is, they were listening. Maybe it wasn’t a person. Maybe it was just a computer picking up on keywords. Still, on the scale of creep factor, that’s an 11 on a one to 10 scale.
In all fairness, Facebook publicly denied this practice in a statement in 2016.
Facebook Does Not Use Your Phone’s Microphone for Ads or News Feed Stories
Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true. We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information – not what you’re talking out loud about.
We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio. This might include recording a video or using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates.
I always wondered why these apps would need access to my microphone when I installed it but didn’t think much of it. Yeah, I do now. It turns out, even though it is a blanket acceptance upon install, you can go back into your settings and individually disable access to your microphone on apps.
Sorry, Facebook and all other apps. Maybe you are being transparent. Maybe it was just a random moment of coincidence. I have no proof either way. Regardless though, you don’t really need access to my microphone for the things I do, so I hereby rule access has been denied.
Unless, of course, randomly talking about winning a million dollars will deliver that to my newsfeed. Then I might reconsider.
Michelle Leigh Miller is an independently published author, freelance writer, and blogger in Southeastern Ohio. Basically, she is just writing words.