Opinion: Opt-in options


“Opt in to our extensive and relentless email and text marketing campaign,” offers the pop-up box blocking our advance with the install of the new application demanded of us to order a tasty pizza, or it offers simply, “not now.” Two things come to mind. One, why is it nearly required to log into a virtual world to satisfy a late-night mozzarella and pepperoni craving? And two, do the software developers really believe that we might change our minds later? Is it too hard to simply give us a yes/no option?

Kidding aside, it is kind of nice to order a pie without the old-school phone call – or even more cumbersome, walking up to a counter and talking to another human face-to-face. In these recent years where websites have replaced order-takers, we’ve come to know that our requests are almost always correct when we make them in electronic form. There is one less opportunity for human error. Extra pineapple and double anchovies don’t raise an eyebrow.

For all we’ve gained, some of us still pine for the loss of the personal interaction. If we were asked to join a mailing list and declined, the kid behind the counter might offer a free 2-liter of soda if we complied but rarely shamed us by pretending that we didn’t know how to say “no.” Today, the sale of our data – who we are and what we like on our stay-up-late snacks – has become of considerable value to the companies collecting it. So-called “data mining” implies the rich minerals being sought. Modern interactions seem to exclaim, “You might not give in now, but it is only a matter of time before we get you.” Although they are probably right, it all feels a little ominous. When did no disappear?