I recently attended a marketing conference. One of the main premises of the conference was that we’ve finally evolved to the ability to personalize marketing messages on a mass scale.

The description went something like this:

+ We used to go to the butcher, and they’d know our name and have our order ready for us
+ Then television happened and the world got smaller, so marketing started reaching for the masses with one, depersonalized message (TV, billboards, etc.)
+ Now, the two have combined

That’s right, with the amount of data we collect on everyone, their habits, their preferences, etc., we can now create personalized digital experiences for them on a mass scale. Amazon’s one of the most obvious examples.

Your Amazon experience has your name on it, along with all of your preferences and recommendations for you based on your past purchases.

The funny thing about this conference though, was that during all of this stressing of personalization, they announced that you could ask questions of all the speakers by downloading the conference app on your smartphone and then texting your question directly to the emcee, who would pass on the questions to the speakers.

Now, maybe this is too obvious, but it seems to me that a truly personalized experience would be people raising their hands and interacting directly with the speaker. I mean, the conference theme was, ironically, Interact.

It scares me that people think that with the advent of social media and texting replacing phone conversations that somehow, the world has gotten smaller and we’ve all gotten closer. In fact, there’s probably less human interaction per human than any time in this country’s history.

I don’t need to make all of the observations about families or friends sitting at a restaurant looking at their smart phones or people sharing intimate news on Facebook, but not telling their friends directly. It’s been done before.

But this all tells me that we’re actually becoming less personalized and more dehumanized. Sometimes I think the EMP can’t come soon enough.