Amazon recommends books it thinks I'd enjoy based on my previous purchases, and its algorithms are pretty much on target. Netflix's film recommendations are usually in ballpark. Even the grocery store knows me well enough (Thank you/curse you, courtesy card!) to send coupons for items I buy regularly and new products I might like. I use a lot of those coupons, so the approach has merit.
Sadly, Amazon, Netflix, and the grocery store understand us better than some of the people we love.
Yesterday, Hubs handed me a nifty level that has a ruler on one side and a magnet on the other. He was sure I'd want it. Wrong. I admire its utility, but it speaks to me of DIY projects I'd like to leave on the back burner for another decade. Luckily, he found my rejection of his gift funny, and we laughed about it.
A not-so-happy memory centers around a former co-worker-- she of the great shoes, sleek pencil skirts, and chunky jewelry in silver and bronze. My co-worker showed me the gift her husband gave her for their anniversary. It was a necklace of tiny stones fashioned into delicate forget-me-knots—the flower that had decorated their long-ago wedding invitation. "He took the invitation to a jeweler. It was thoughtful, I know, but does this necklace look like me?"
It may have looked like her twenty-two-year-old self, but did it resemble her at forty-two? Not even close. I didn't say that, but she knew what I was thinking.
Eventually, my co-worker and her husband divorced for many reasons. The catalyst for their break-up wasn't a gift she didn't like but one that convinced her the giver didn't understand that her taste, confidence level, and way of presenting herself had shifted 180 degrees.
An Amazon-like algorithm would have tracked those changes. A husband better attuned to her would have too, but we all know good, thoughtful men who need help keeping tabs on the interests and enthusiasms of the women in their lives.
A guy friend was so sure of his place in his new love's world, he dropped off his birthday present to her at an after-work drinks party thrown by her girlfriends.
"She didn't like the gift," he told me the next day.
I was afraid to ask. "What was it?"
"A Mister Coffee."
One look at my face and he got defensive. "The top-of-the-line Mister Coffee!"
"It's not about the money!" I took the side of the unknown-to-me woman who'd undoubtedly told her girlfriends about the hot but sensitive new guy in her life--and then, in front of them, opened his present of a small kitchen appliance.
Is there an algorithm that would have forced a man who'd been married twenty years to see his wife for the woman she'd become? Is there one for a guy who wants to show a woman he's fallen for her in a way that earns the approval of her girlfriends? If such an algorithm exists, could it be surgically implanted?
Does your significant other choose gifts that delight you and prove he/she gets you, or are you considering an algorithm implant?
While you're thinking, I give you Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes: