By Lisa Scottoline
I accept all cookies.
That’s where I go wrong.
And for once, I’m not talking about carbohydrates.
Let me explain.
I’ve been shopping online for the holidays, and lately, every website pops up with the question: Do You Accept The Cookies?
Before I go further, I’m not going to get super-technical.
Don’t come to me for technical advice about tech.
I don’t know, I don’t care, and it’s boring.
But I sort-of understand that cookies allow somebody to track where I go online, so they can send me ads or sell that information to someone else.
And when the website asks me, Do You Accept The Cookies?
The choice of answers they offer is usually: Yes, I Accept The Cookies.
Or No, Now Read This Long Thing You Won’t Understand Anyway.
Look, I’m just a normal lady in the suburbs, trying to buy things online and get back to work. I don’t have time to read long things I won’t understand, even with a law degree.
Which, amazingly, I have.
So when they ask me the question about the cookies and give me the choice, I choose Yes, I Accept the Cookies.
In fact, I thought if you wanted to see the website, you had to choose Yes.
I guessed that was fair, like the price of admission.
If I have to accept the cookies to finish my holiday shopping and get back to work, I’m accepting a plateful.
So imagine my reaction when Daughter Francesca came home for Thanksgiving, watched me shop online, and told me, “You don’t have to accept the cookies.”
“Yes, you do,” I told her, with maternal confidence. “This is America.”
“Nothing is free. Not even cookies.”
“Mom, you really don’t have to accept the cookies. Watch.” Francesca took my mouse and started clicking, showing me that I could answer No, make certain choices, and save them in a process that wasn’t that long, confusing, or annoying.
I couldn’t believe it. “You mean all this time, I’ve been accepting the cookies and I didn’t have to?”
“Are you sure?”
And that’s why we have children.
To come home and show us the error of our ways.
I’m grateful to her. But also cranky at these websites.
I think they manipulated me into accepting the cookies.
To begin with they call them cookies, which is no accident.
Who doesn’t want cookies?
Nobody ever turns down a cookie.
Especially at the holidays.
Plus even if you’re on a diet, you always have room for a cookie. We snack on milk and cookies. I love cookies-and-cream ice cream. And if you give a mouse a cookie, you know what happens.
I feel the same way about pizza.
I’m surprised they didn’t ask, Do You Accept The Pizza?
Who would say no to that?
Or, Do You Accept The Spaghetti?
Or, Do You Accept The Chocolate Cake?
Okay, maybe I am talking about carbohydrates.
But that’s the point. They fooled me into thinking I was getting carbohydrates when in fact I was getting God-knows-who watching me go God-knows-where online.
And how about newsletter requests?
Nowadays, first thing, every website asks you if you want to join their newsletter. I know you don’t have to accept them, so I don’t, even though some offer a 10% discount.
But if you say No, they make you feel stupid.
You have to check, No, I’m A Spendthrift.
Or, I Spend Money Like It’s Going Out of Style.
Or, I’m a Drunken Sailor. How Did You Know?
But I don’t always want the newsletter, and I walk the walk, friends. I don’t have that pop-up on my own website. If you want my newsletter, which of course is totally worth your while, you have to go find the sign-up page on my website.
My point is I’m not trying to trick you with cookies and pizza.
It’s not my business where you go online.
I’m not tracking you.
I’m no snoop.
And if I had the chance, I’d make you cookies.
Not cookies with an agenda.
Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2021
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Ghosts of Harvard, which The Washington Post called “a sweeping and beguiling novel” as well as “a rich, intricately plotted thriller,” is Francesca Serritella’s debut novel.
Best First Novel Finalist– International Thriller Writers