Losing My Cookies

Joshua Quittner and Michelle Slatalla

Losing My Cookies

Joshua Quittner and Michelle Slatalla

Losing My Cookies
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Nov. 2 1999 12:03 PM

Joshua Quittner and Michelle Slatalla

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I have never knowingly clicked on an online ad. Never. I did it a couple of times accidentally about three years ago, when I was still confused about how search engines worked and couldn't figure out which juicy inviting button near the top of the screen to hit. But each time, as soon as I realized I was going to a sponsor's page, I recoiled as if a spider had landed in my hair. "No! No! No! No!" I shrieked in horror, jerking my modem's cord out of the wall. Also I delete all the cookies on my hard drive once a week because I have some vague belief that this diversionary tactic will confuse the marketers and advertisers the next time I go to a site.

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Also, I always lie on any surveys. Either I say our annual household income is less than $10,000 or I say it is more than $200,000. I never wanted to admit any of this to you, but now that you are no longer directly involved in running any Internet sites, I think you can take the truth.

This is not an anti-Internet stance, per se. I just hate having people pester me to buy stuff I don't need. My own brain is already working overtime pestering me to do same.

For that reason, I have never willingly watched a commercial on TV either, with the exception of that e-trading commercial that you love so much and wake me up to see every time it comes on. "This is the funny part," you shriek, elbowing me. I am proud to say that although the ad's plot line is vivid in my mind--young upstart with vaguely threatening hairstyle shows that old geezer boss a thing or two--I could not for the life of me tell you exactly which e-trading company is paying the bill. Am I the only person whose brain simply will not hold onto brand names? I know what I like, I just don't know if it's a Nike or an Adidas or some other model of car. I like the ones with the shiny chrome fenders and bench seats. But I don't think you can buy them anymore. Here are the attributes of consumer goods that appeal to me far more than brand name: 1) Color. 2) Weight. 3) Whether it feels comfy enough to fall asleep in while you're reading. None of these features can be properly conveyed online. Trust me; I spend my days shopping on the Internet.

Joshua Quittner is Time's technology columnist and editor of Time Digital. Michelle Slatalla writes a weekly column about online shopping for the New York Times "Circuits" section. They are the authors of Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace (click here to buy it).