Originally posted on November 2, 2017
What could someone guess about me based on my purchase history.
For a few years now I have had a pull list at my local comic shop. They put certain comics in a box behind the counter and I show up on pay day to buy a months worth of comics. A great service for forgetful people like me.
I was reading up on the hot new European data protection law today. General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR will be big. Exiting stuff if you are paranoid like me. It reminded me that my order list at the comic shop could be considered sensitive data under current UK data protection law
Sensitive data includes: racial/ethnic origin, political or religious opinions, physical or mental health details, sexuality, trade union membership. There is nothing on the comic ordering system that says I’m queer but there is a list of the things I buy. Queer things.
You can’t tell from my purchase history that I’m white and not in a trade union but you can guess a few other “sensitive” things. A big data crunching company would have flagged me as suspect.
Lets look at my current pull list:
- Constantine the Hellblazer
- Bitch Planet
- Scooby Doo Apocalypse
- Poe Dameron
Nothing too telling. This reader must like Sci-Fi and is probably female going by a book about a social media fashion icon and the capital F Feminist dystopia anthology (Bitch Planet). Bitch Planet is very political. It even has essays on feminism next to the letters page. Might label me as a feminist though that’s not ‘sensative’.
I took a small gamble on snotgirl. It’s writen by Bryan Lee O’Malley of Scott Pilgrim and Seconds. I liked both of those so I picked up snotgirl #1 and then it became the first thing I read when I buy my comics.As for Bitch Planet: I once saw Kelly Sue DeConnick referred to as a “part-time comic writer.” I don’t actually mind the delays on the main story because I am finding Bitch Planet Triple Feature to be more enjoyable.
If you take into account comics that used to be on my list and graphic novels I have ordered in… the picture becomes clearer.
Regarding physical or mental health: I have ordered a few of Simon Hanselmann’s Megg, Mogg and Owl books. These books detail the lives of some very unhappy people/animals. Themes of mental health issues, drugs, poverty, gender, and sexuality. I’ve heard quite a few people who have moved on from that lifestyle call it too real. For a middle-class and drug free idiot like myself its not an obvious choice. Might point towards my actual diagnosis.
I’ve bought a fair few comics written by openly bisexual Steve Orlando. Midnighter, followed by Midnighter and Apollo. It features the relationship difficulties between knock-off Batman and knock-off Superman who used to be married in different continuity. Obviously there is more to it than that but the point here is it’s queer. I also picked up a few old issues of the Midnighter but that wont be on file. It is a joy to see a gay character be both very gay in a good way and get to play the sadist anti-hero without being a boring old stereotype.The art is beautiful and you can really feel the bones shatter.
Orlando also wrote Virgil. A “queersplotation” graphic novel about a closeted Jamaican police officer being violently outed and violently taking revenge.
Bitch Planet also hints at queerness. The Star Wars mini series with Captain Phasma feels sapphic to me for no good reason. The bad reason is I both fancy and want to be Gwendoline Christie.
Constantine the Hellblazer was made for me. Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV wrote a damn fun spooky mystery with John also being romantically involved with another man. It ended poorly but better than many of John’s relationships. Also there was an alt cover I want desperately where you can see our hero’s erection outline. [Update March 2018: I got that cover and framed it!]
The sequential art of Amanda Conner. Errrrrrrrrrr
What was I talking about?
This was supposed to be a fun exercise. Fun that reminds me that big data is here to stay. And with that, here is a list
I care more than the average person about my data. I’ve written to the Irish data commissioner about Facebook not complying with data access regulation. Under current EU law you can request a company give you a copy of the data they have on you. Facebook do not provide me with the mountain of cookie data they must have on every webpage I have visited. Data I know they have going by the very targeted ads they can serve. For them to display the “like” button on a million pages the cookie they put on my browsers they can know what page I am on. Thanks EFF and Privacy Badger for deleting that cookie every time every time puts it there. I used this website. Interesting resource. I’m not going to go in the comic shop and ask if their spreadsheet is encrypted or who their data controller is. I’m lucky. I won’t lose my job or be executed if the government knows I have copies of Batwoman.
Companies that must know I’m queer or sick:
- Any search engine
- Any social media
- Any one of those big advertisers that follow you across websites
- Those sites I used to read manga on**
- Every organisation that sends crawlers onto this page***
*I am going to use the word queer. It is the word used in academia (see queer studies or queer history). It is the word to use to identify myself. I find it fits better than explaining “pansexual, probably” and I will not censor the word that I used to describe me. I don’t use it to describe people I know do not like being called such. I find the LGBTQIA+ acronym family awkward and I’m not Trans* or Intersex or Plus so it feels a little odd to use that to refer to myself. Queer is a short word that says I’m not STR8 but doesn’t go into how.
**There was quite a big survey of archive of our own users that showed that more users identified as not-straight than straight. But that was a survey advertised on tumblr and now I can’t find it right now anyway. I wonder how many of those yaoi reading tweens accused of fetishising gay men turned out to be women who like women? I actually want to know. I don’t deny there are some creepy women cooing over their “sinners” but also some of us were working things out in a world where there is just less yuri. I read a lot of Yuri, too.
***Under current EU law you can request a company give you a copy of the data they have on you. Facebook do not provide me with the mountain of cookie data they must have on every webpage I have visited. Data I know they have going by the very targeted ads they can serve. For them to display the “like” button on a million pages the cookie they put on my browsers they can know what page I am on. Thanks EFF and Privacy Badger for deleting that cookie every time every time puts it there. I used this website. Interesting resource.