Monday, April 16, 2012

Does Watching TCM Make Me... Republican?

Everywhere we look on the Internet, everywhere we buy something with a credit or debit card, everywhere we look someone somewhere is collecting that data. In a world of electronic convenience and quick and easy payments we are being targeted more specifically than ever before. Amazon recommends items for us based on past purchases, Google provides answers to our searches that it thinks we'll be most interested in based on past searches, our phone rings with electronic messages from candidates based on past contributions.

It's all getting too much.

An article in today's New York Times, "Let the Nanotargeting Begin", is a frightening display of just how specific this data collection has become, targeting specific groups, very specific groups that might swing more Democrat or Republican. Check out some of the charts. Many stereotypes are confirmed. But there are just as many surprises.

The first chart concerns information and entertainment. Democrats like The New York Times, MSNBC, and Comedy Central. Republicans like Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the Golf Channel. But it gets more interesting toward the middle. Can you guess the great unifier, the ultimate bipartisan television station? It's HGTV. I guess House Hunters International carries across the aisle.

Now let's look at it another way. Add if they vote regularly or not and the mix changes a bit. Democrats that rarely vote like to watch VH1, while big turnout voters like CNN. Republicans that stay home on election day are probably watching CMT, while steady voters like TCM. Now this just surprises me to no end. Turner Classic Movies is my favorite channel. But I'll never turn. Maybe it's because they show Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead?

Apart from our differences, maybe it's the similarities that surprises me the most. Democrats and Republicans alike both enjoy Cadillacs, Wendys, looking on the internet for movie listings, and the biggest surprise to me, while Democrats favor Budweiser and Republicans favor Miller Lite both prefer a nice pint of Guinness. Maybe the best thing we can do to settle things down in Washington DC is to tap a keg, send the pages out for some Wendy's burgers, and watch House Hunters International together. Maybe if we concentrate on our similarities the differences won't matter that much. Let's start with the biggest one and work up from there. Number One: We are all Americans.

Now I'm off to get another pint.

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