The past few months have been kind of special for us Ohioans. We have been fussed over, courted, wined, dined and pampered by all of those hopeful candidates who want our much-coveted votes. Every time a candidate comes to town, it's as if we are on some date where the suitor is telling all of his funniest stories, opening the door for you, being as charming as possible, and hopefully picking up the tab. Of course, they occasionally flub, maybe coming back from the restroom with toilet paper on their shoe. But nobody's perfect.
We're pretty special, we swing-staters. I'm kind of going to miss all the attention after it's all over. But electoral votes aside, the numbers game of elections makes you realize that we are all categorized - as men, women, young, old, rich, poor, consumers, audience - by just about everyone and everything.
We 18-35ers are particularly important to the numbers game. It seems as if our opinion affects just about everything. Television, music, politics, trends, pop culture, Internet, whatever. Companies spend millions on commercials during shows that we like. The Internet churns endlessly to spit out stuff for us to spend money on. Whatever we are talking about or doing is analyzed, marketed and produced in a never-ending cycle of the next-big thing.
It's kind of mind-boggling. Facebook is a perfect example of this. Next time you're logged on, check out the ads going down the right side of the page. Dating, college, clothes, music, makeup are all looking at me - and that's no coincidence. My vital statistics, commonly discussed topics and web-browsing patterns are all analyzed by Zuckerberg and Co. in order to offer the ads most likely to be clicked by an interested me. The algorithms and whatnot are created just to find out exactly what we Generation X / Yers are interested in. Kind of empowering, huh?
Of course, with great power comes great opportunity to have some fun with it. Try looking up a bunch of weird, random topics through Google. Change your Facebook profile to say you're a 105-year-old Eskimo man or something. Post a status about hot dogs, Ferraris and life insurance. Then see how your ads change. Somewhere, some Internet guy is shaking his fist, going "you meddling kids!"
Scary how everything you do is being monitored. When I buy groceries, my discount card tells some giant machine what I buy, and therefore what coupons to offer me. When I buy something online, I mysteriously start getting emails offering me similar stuff. Even my dad, when he tries to win a lawnmower at the county fair, starts getting calls from a plethora of lawn-care companies (and grief from my mom).
I guess our age group makes us highly desirable. It's about time for us to start making money and looking for houses / cars / boats. We (hopefully) are going to be around to buy stuff and watch stuff for a long time. We are supposedly cool and in-the-know about what the next trend is going to be. Thusly, movies, TV, music, Internet, and all kinds of stuff is molded to our desires.
It doesn't always go according to plan. They make one movie we like, but then it's overkilled by remaking the same movie over and over. Sometimes the best shows get canceled, while formulaic nonsense thrives. Poor souls sometimes embarrass themselves trying to be "hip" and "relatable" to us (by the way, Tom Cruise, stop it).
We only have so long to be this relevant. It's kind of neat to have such importance put on your likes and dislikes, your style, your opinions. Treasure it. Because soon, nobody will care what brand of soda you prefer, or which Internet meme you think should be made into the next summer blockbuster (coming in summer 2013: "Gangnam Honey Badger!"). But maybe when I'm not such a desirable consumer, my inbox will be much less cluttered.