The Push-Notification Dystopia

With all of our modern technology, being able to tell where someone is at all times is fairly easy to do. With the introduction of RFID chips, this would be even easier- considering they can be implanted directly into a person. However, whether we’re aware of it or not, many of us could be tracked based on location at any moment. Our cell phones use location-based applications and notifications in order to keep track of where we are- often so that they can target more purchases at us.

Apps like Instagram keep tabs on our location, with our “permission,” in order to give us the ability to post where we are at all times, and in order for them to target us more effectively with advertisements. Push notifications in general are advertisements in themselves. I, personally, almost never activate push notifications because I often find them to be harassing and desperate. Unless an app’s success is based off of the push-notification ability, a push notification often becomes an advertisement to use that app more often.

Game applications in particular, like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and Candy Crush, use push notifications in order to annoy you into playing their application more. These notifications don’t want you to simply play, however. They want you to spend money. By promoting their millions of in-app purchase options, push notifications are their best selling tool. Candy Crush likes to remind you that you’re out of lives, but don’t worry you can buy more right now and continue playing! While games like Kim Kardashian send you notifications about special “sales” and deals in which you can buy exclusive clothing items for your avatar.

Although a fully rational adult is often wise enough to stay away from these money pitfalls, the second your phone is handed to a younger child you’re in risk. These apps, which are usually partially targeted to children, want these kids to not really think about money saving and the consequences of their actions, because what kid does that? They’re trying to appeal to the impulsive mind that doesn’t think things through maybe as clearly as they should.

When thinking in a dystopian future mindset, I worry that notifications and constant advertisements such as this will follow us around even more than they already do. Although it’s great having technology at your fingertips, imagine the barrage of advertisements that will follow you as well. Things like this are already in progress, with the invention of things like the advertisement that sends small waves so only you can hear them when you lean your head against a subway or train window. This is a fairly recent invention, and isn’t eagerly anticipated by, well, anyone. Advertisers always seems to be able to find ways to annoy people in the worst ways- and I think that a future with intense, all-surrounding advertisements precedes an even more distant future in which their outlandish ways of advertising are widely protested against.


One comment

  1. I totally understand this article…sometimes I turn off push notifications and they still find a way to barrage my phone! I’ve even heard of apps that will now use your location to advertise for you like “I see you’re by subway, here’s a buy one get one free coupon.” Interesting concept, but it could get creepy fast. Like pokes on facebook, hopefully obnoxious push notifications will die out rather than remain a “thing.”

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