I'm on Facebook, it's how I keep up with my dozens of friends and family members. But the "targeted" ads I am served are absolutely a hoot and some days are as entertaining as the FB posts. My favourite is the one about a 50-year-old woman whose dermatologist hates her for her age-defying beauty secret which makes her look 25 (and which she is willing to sell me). I won't buy it because if I looked 25 people would expect me to act 25 and if there's one thing I love about looking old it's that you don't have to apologize for being slow anymore.
Another frequent ad is from a dating service which laments the fact that their "senior men" can't find "faithful senior women like you Deborah". If I answered that ad I'd not be the "faithful" woman they're looking for would I? Besides their supposedly "senior men" (models dressed as policemen and firemen and doctors in lab coats) - are all about 35! My sons are older!
Still hoping they have a merry and potentially wealthy widow on their hands (I gave them NO information other than name and age and a hometown I left at 11) they offer to move me into a high-end retirement home, then try to entice me to join a single-seniors-only cruise. I sense frustration as they try to find something, anything that I might buy. A decorator will come to my home and make sure it doesn't have that "granny vibe" we all fear. Sadly I do not want a $12,000 sofa that looks like three ironing boards grafted together and covered with fuschia-coloured patent leather.
The ad servers are flummoxed. Abandoning the hope that I am high-end, single-cruising-cougar widow, they test the theory that I am a crippled-up penny-pinching old party pooper and offer to sell me the secret of how to get $35,000 free dollars from the government because I am infirm. When I don't even want to know how to get $35,000 of free-for-the-taking-money desperation sets in.
They abandon all semblance of targeting and simply go with alternating stereotypes. It's well known if you are over 65 you are (obviously) either infirm or an elderly Olympian. So they alternate advertisements for medical aids with those for hair-raising adventures. Do I need a new wheelchair? No? Do I want to go a sky-diving? No? How about standing out in the geezer crowd with a hand carved cane from Borneo? No?? Surely I'd enjoy a life-changing (I read this as "life-ending") rafting trip down the north face of Everest? NO??? Perhaps I could do with a medical lift or a potty chair to sit beside my bed? NO? A day of mudding with my dune buggy?
When I don't throw the credit card at any of these wonderful choices, I visualize them hunched over their keyboards with knit brows, shuffling their ads like a deck of solitaire cards. One, gnawing his thumbnail, says tensely, "Pull back just a little, offer her (long pause) square-dancing lessons." They watch with nervous expectation as the ad comes and goes, all Madison Avenue Ad agency sweat under the armpits as FB stock ticks lower by the second. A vein in a temple pulses visibly. The old dame is holding out. She's still not BUYING ANYTHING!
In rapid succession they promise to hide my varicose veins, lift my sagging bosom, glue chalk white facades on my discoloured teeth, ease my aching joints. This gives me pause. I've never noticed any of these problems, perhaps Facebook has a "Future Afflictions" app I have inadvertently signed up for? I was actually beginning to worry about it and even stopped to look in the mirror the other day (an activity I usually avoid).
But the real topper was when I got a message from my cousin Mac this morning. Facebook has apparently developed an app which does what no other web application has ever done before; transcended that final curtain which we have never peered beyond.
My dearly-loved cousin Mac passed away last December. However, he's FB'd me today to recommend a well-known brand of senior's vitamins. They finally have me. I'm going to buy some. If that brand of vitamin pill can make Mac feel well enough to post to FB from where he's gone, they might finally make a square-dancer out of me.