Inexplicable Things I’ve Removed From My Facebook “Advertising Interests”

Facebook's "Your ad preferences" header.

Two months ago, I swung through the Facebook “Ad Preferences” interface. I have been so diligent in marking most individual ads as irrelevant – because they are genuinely irrelevant, not because I merely dislike advertising – that the ensuing advertisements were flying off the rails.

I returned today to knock a few more off my list, knowing that these things attach to your profile like ticks in tall grass. I continue to wonder why any of these exist as something an advertising campaign can be built off of, and if you’ve never looked at yours, you should.

In the name of documenting what I’ve removed:

I have removed an advertising preference for Bark (sound).

I have removed 10 years of Football Manager releases, from 2005 to 2016, but excluding 2015, which was not in my advertising preferences. This is ironic because I am in the game’s regen database starting in the 2015 release. (Weird story.)

I have removed technical concepts, including COM file, HTTP 404, the 2014 release OS X Yosemite, and 1080p.

I have removed Bible, God, and First Epistle to the Thessalonians.

I have removed multiple places I have never been: New South Wales, Chino California, Germany, Entre Rios Province, South West England, North East England, and State of Mexico.

Not to be outdone by specific locations, I have removed geographic concepts: City, Country, and U.S. State. Also, somehow, List of United States cities by population.

I have removed five seasons of The Amazing Race (14, 17, 18, 21, 22). While I did watch TAR back in the day, I stopped around season 10.

I have removed both Love (band) and Love.

I have removed a number of purely weird concepts or things, including: Fictional film, Food craving, Gift, Institution, Mammal, Online, Resource, Remake, Ticket (admission), Time signature, Special edition, Sound, Vertebrate, and Wristband.

I have removed Socialistische Partij Anders. I’m sure they’re delightful, but I don’t think I need the ads.

I have removed multiple pieces of media I’ve never seen, including The Ringer (1931 film), Ghost (1990 film), and Godzilla (1954 film).

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I removed an advertising preference for Facebook.

2017 in Five Sentences

For as long as I’ve kept this blog, I’ve tried to find some positive way to put a bow on the milestones of my life, including the end of the year.

I have tried my hardest to look back over this year and find some unifying narrative of hope, of growth, of betterment in my life or the world around me.

I haven’t been able to find it.

2017 has been far more struggling with the dark than it has been responding to the light.

Onward to 2018.

Loyal To My Sorrowful Country

Eight years ago, immediately following the first election of Barack Obama, I wrote a blog piece entitled The Great Release. While I had memories of writing it, I hadn’t re-read it in the years since.

The short version of the post: it had been around eight years since I had started this blog; writing was my catharsis, and I wrote to ensure I couldn’t forget the emotions I felt on that night.

Those exact emotions, I had forgotten. Sure, there were symbolic actions (“as the tears came to my eye”) and (now) foolish declarations that the country had “spoken resoundingly” and rejected fear mongering. But the description of those eight years under Bush felt like a repressed memory:

I can not ever forget what the last eight years have done to this country. It has divided us, such that my own relatives feel that calling me a “commie pinko” is acceptable discourse. It has destroyed our good standing around the world. It has warped our values: intelligence and eloquence had become something that we no longer wanted in our leaders.

So. Here we are again. Back where we started, as though the last eight years not only hadn’t happened but had somehow caused us to backslide. Our international good standing is shattered, buffered slightly by the UK beating us to the punch some months ago. Our values have warped farther, where playing to hateful views is not only viable enough to win you the nomination, but the presidency as well. And the “commie pinko” comment from one of my in-laws was not merely said but screamed at my wife last night.

Unlike eight years ago, my emotional spectrum over the last twenty four hours doesn’t feel worth jotting down in detail. Dread, regret, sadness, indignation, exhaustion – they all eventually gave way to knowing the sun would come up and the world around me would try to find a way to continue. (As I grow older, my emotional range in narrowing; less jittery highs and lows, more smooth curves.)

The emotion I do want to focus on is the recurring theme as I check in on my friends: heartbreak and resolve.

There’s the heartbreak of my LGBTQ friends who now will wait in fear for the inevitable rolling back of their rights.

There’s the heartbreak of my married friends who have to find a way to explain this to their kids.

There’s the heartbreak of my female friends who are terrified that birth control will be outlawed.

There’s the heartbreak of my immigrant friends who have had their impressions of what this country represented fractured.

There’s the heartbreak of friends who have to face antagonistic family over the holidays, who now feel empowered to spew hate about minorities, immigrants, and imagined threats.

The heartbreak was pretty uniform, but a collective resolve is showing through soon after. Whether that’s resolve to protest, resolve to work to understand the other side, or resolve to dedicate themselves to a cause, it’s starting to show up in my conversations as much as that initial heartbreak. There’s not talk about “second amendment solutions”, little serious talk about running away to Canada – everyone’s just ready to put in the work. Society can’t change on its own.

As for me: while I need to figure out a path to make a difference on my area of biggest concern (trying to reverse decades of slow-building voter suppression efforts), the thing I’m going to focus on for now is supporting the people I care for. Despite 2016 having plenty of low points, I refuse to lose sight of the incredible group of people I get to call my circle of friends.

So to the older version of myself, who will eventually pull this post up in a future election cycles: remember that you don’t win every time. Remember that what feels like progress can disappear in the blink of an eye. Remember to put in the work. And remember to be there to help with the heartbreak, because that is when you may be needed the most.


When I wrote that piece eight years ago, I chose a fairly deep cut from the LCD Soundsystem discography for the post title. The lyrics may not have worked as well as the title did, but it stuck enough to make it through.

This year’s post comes from a 2003 Ted Leo song. The lyrics work better here, but they’re slightly at conflict with the title of the song:

No more shall I be, loyal to my sorrowful country
No more shall I be, loyal to my sorrowful country

And I’ve walked from coast to coast
And I’ve seen, yes I’ve seen…
No one’s business but my own
Where I’ve been, where I’ve been…

And no more shall I be, loyal to my sorrowful country
No more shall I be, loyal to my sorrowful country

In the days when we were young
We were free, we were free…
Now that Georgie’s reign’s begun
We won’t be, we can’t be…

And no more shall I be, loyal to my sorrowful country
No more shall I be, loyal to my sorrowful country

Though I’ve lived my bygone years
In this land, in this land…
I’ll uproot it without tears
And I’ll change it if I can!

And, no more shall I be, loyal to my sorrowful country
No more shall I be, loyal to my sorrowful country