Saturday, July 27, 2013

Blue Man? Or Big Brother?

My teenage daughter has a special guest here for the next two weeks. The young lady is from Barcelona, and they have been Facebook friends for a couple of years. That's the cyberland equivalent of pen-pals, I guess.

I briefly had a pen pal from Norway when I was in junior high. Her name was Veronika and I think we corresponded a few times before it fizzled out. I had high hopes at the beginning however. Having been only as far away as Missouri for visits to my grandmother, the allure of international friends (and travel!) was very strong. 

These days, our kids — at least those from wired middle-class homes — are growing up in a global village, connected to like-minded teens all over the world. Let's face it, Facebook is way cooler than writing a letter. And a lot faster. And a lot easier to use. Just post a picture or quick message; no messy stamps (or proofreading, apparently) required.

My daughter and her temporary housemate dreamed this visit up many months ago. They were encouraged by our visitor's English teacher, a dear old friend of mine from elementary school. Plans include a couple of horse shows (like my daughter, our young guest is an equestrienne), and four days in New York City. With several beaches and pools nearby, we figured we could easily fill any other time.

What we didn't figure was that a nearly four-week heat wave would be followed by 60-degree days and freezing rain. 


Quick! Suddenly, I have to find some fun indoor things to do in and around Boston. We're going to visit Harvard, go shopping (the international language of teen), and take a Duck Tour. We'll see a Broadway show in New York, but I thought some local theatre would also be fun. I landed on Blue Man Group. It's a spectacular and innovative work of performance art, and most of it is done without any dialogue or soundtrack. (I figured our guest might enjoy an evening that didn't require so much English — although, I have to say that she speaks our language beautifully. Us, hers? Not so much. "Bienvenido" and "Mi casa es su casa" was pretty much the extent of it.) 

Blue Man Group it was.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Ever since I visited Blue Man's website, I'm being cyber-stalked. Constantly. Everywhere I go. No matter what website I visit, I'm being served up ads for Blue Man Group.

It's my own fault. I searched Blue Man Group on Google. I visited the Blue Man Group Boston website. Then (sneaky me), I found discounted tickets elsewhere. The thing is, the official Blue Man marketers only know that I researched and abandoned — they don't know I've already purchased. So, my cyber world now belongs to Blue Man

Of course, this happens all the time (and, in my day job as a direct and digital marketer, I understand the how's and why's of "cookies"). But, somehow, this feels different, spooky. The ads I'm seeing aren't for shoes or bathing suits or a new printer (all of which I've been served up lately, based on my browsing activity). No matter what website I'm visiting or what search engine I'm using, there he is ... the Blue Man. (I read somewhere that even when there's three of them, it's politically correct to refer to them as a single "man.") There's his shiny head. There are his piercing eyes. It's a little un-nerving actually.

I've seen the show three times (twice here and once in New York). And, I highly highly recommend it. Take your husband. Take your kids. We're looking forward to taking our new Spanish friend.

Just don't spend too much time searching for Blue Man online. Or you may have the blues too.

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