The internet hates secrets. More than that, it despises them. And so, in February of last year, my partner and I resolved to try and keep the existence of our unborn child a secret from the online economy’s data-hungry gaze. Our reasons were simple: first, we wanted our child, when it was good and ready, to establish its own online identity; second, we didn’t want to be stalked around the internet by adverts for breast pumps and baby carriers; finally, and most pertinently, we wanted some semblance of control over something that felt deeply personal.
On the first point, we’re doing pretty well. On the second, we failed spectacularly. And on our foolhardy wish for control? Well, it goes without saying, the internet doesn’t want you to have control. (And yes, I realise the irony of me writing an article about a child I am trying to keep a secret from the internet.)
For my partner and I, this was irritating. For others, it’s downright upsetting. A little over a decade ago, US retailer Target started posting discount coupons to customers it suspected might be in the early stages of pregnancy based on their shopping habits. The problem? One of those customers was a teenager who had yet to tell her parents of the impending new arrival. Cue one very angry father.