I’m more than annoyed by the avalanche of emails hawking products related to other things I have browsed or purchased online.

Sorting through this junk every day takes away time I never will get back. I can’t just ignore the garbage because I need to delete it to find my important messages. Sometimes I just want to ... arrrghhhhhhh!

Right now I can’t recall a single time I actually purchased something through one of these emails. I would say these companies are wasting their time sending them, but to add insult to injury it’s really not costing the senders any time or effort at all. Instead algorithms and artificial intelligence programs are analyzing my purchasing and browsing habits to target me with this offal.

For instance, last year I bought a sound bar online for my son for Christmas. For months after I received email after email after email after email trying to sell me sound bars and related electronics.

It was almost a cause for celebration when this cyberattack on my inbox finally ceased.

Likewise with offers for sewing equipment and supplies, my unjust reward for being nice and getting some specialty gifts for Diane.

Now with COVID-19 gumming up the works I probably won’t be able to do any in-person shopping, so I’ll be forced online so things will get even worse.

It seems like there ought to be some way to harness this evil monstrosity for the good. The other evening, after we endured an incessant string of election commercials, Diane came up with a wonderful idea to do just that.

During this season we tend to avoid watching live television altogether, and her suggestion could help lift us from purgatory. Instead of having to plan ahead and record anything we intend to watch to spare us from this pain, we could be free to watch a show we spot at the last minute.

Just picture this viewing paradise, not being stuck with those ads that we’ve already memorized even with our limited exposure.

Since we have already voted, Diane pointed out, shouldn’t there be some way to harness this selective message technology to exempt ourselves from this overwhelming array of political garbage, at least until the next election round?

Think about it. Political advertisers could demand such an arrangement, so they would only pay for targeting an audience that has not yet cast a vote. That’s really no different than a sound bar merchant only paying to target people who have shown they are likely to purchase such an item, right?

We all know already that the almighty dollar motivates politicians, so purveyors of targeted ads should jump right on this and increase their own profit with these selective targeted messages.

Shouldn’t they be able to come up with a database listing those who’ve already voted, one that could spare you from that tidal wave of political ads? I know that satellite or cable TV is not that technologically advanced at this point, but how about web sites or social media sites?

You know how annoying it is when you click on that fascinating video of the squirrel eating pizza while water skiing and instead you have to put up with a political ad — it would be wonderful to be spared that experience. Or how about when you simply are trying to catch up with posts on social media, and have to bypass all the election pitches — those algorithms could work for us instead of against us for a change.

On the plus side this would be a great way to spur early voting. I know I would be willing to head to the election office the first day the polls are open to cash in on this wonderful bonus,

I’m really surprised that I haven’t seen someone come up with this idea before. It’s a real win-win-win – more efficient messaging for politicians, a potential gold mine to online platforms, and an enhancement to the election process as well.

On that thought I’ll wrap this up. And as a final word, I’m Don Allison, and I approve this message.

Don Allison is an author, historian and retired editor of The Bryan Times. He can be reached at www.fadedbanner.com.

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