Yearning for the days when we were all disengaged consumers

Spectators take pictures with their smartphones as they watch a parade.

Believe me, I know the point of "Mad Men" is not to make us nostalgic for the good old days of advertising. But at least back then, as smarmy as the ad men were, the game was more straightforward: Companies wanted your money, and they ran ads to get it.

Okay, so that hasn't changed, exactly. Companies still want your money. But now they actually try and make you work to make it easier to sell you their products.

Oh, I'm sorry -- you thought that when your favorite DJ asks you to vote on whether you prefer your candles vanilla or cinnamon-scented, or which way you like your toilet paper to hang, or who was the best dressed at "The Great Gatsby" premier, it's because she's interested in your thoughts?

Ha.

It's all part of a two-part ploy. Step one: lure you to the company website, Facebook page or Twitter feed. Step two: motivate you to "like"/share/pin/rank/rate/comment/complete a survey -- anything to build a "relationship" or to show advertisers that you're an "engaged" user.

Can't we just watch or listen in peace?

Apparently not. The quest for engaged consumers is relentless. ABC wants me to follow my favorite "Shark Tank" shark on Twitter. CNN.com wants to me to submit my suggestion for the country's best beer town. The local oldies station nags me to stop by on Facebook and tell the hosts about incidents in which I've almost injured myself in the bathroom.

Even I don't care about that. Or do I? Listeners, tweet me and let me know your opinion.

About the author

Beth Teitell writes for the Boston Globe. Her most recent book is called "Drinking Problems at the Fountain of Youth."

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