If you list your marital status as “Interlocutory,” LensCrafters wants you to feel included. Polygamists, too.
Today at LensCrafters I was handed an iPad and instructed to “update my medical history” prior to my eye exam. Purportedly for the sake of greater efficiency and accuracy, I was confronted with screen after screen of repetitive requests for information, most of which should have already been in their database. I had to type in my home address no fewer than three times. (Can we all agree that any computer programmer who creates such an illogical and repetitive form should be banished to the computer-programmer equivalent of Gitmo — perhaps an endless loop of Disney’s “It’s a Small World” ride with only a dial-up modem?)
In addition to the repetitive requests for my address and phone number(s!!) were more intrusive demographic questions, including an inquisition about my race and ethnic background.
And right there on the very first screen was a mini-interrogation about the intimate details of my marital status. Am I married? Divorced? Widowed? Never Married? Interlocutory?
We’ve all become accustomed to intrusive questions about our personal lives when we’re accosted by the endless forms, without which, we’re told, life as we know it will come to a grinding halt. Years ago doctors asked about your marital status so they’d know where to send the bill and they asked about your race and ethnic background solely because there were certain diseases and disorders endemic to some ethnicities.
Is LensCrafters making a grand statement about the definition of marriage? Perhaps. Or maybe the form is just a reflection of where we are as a culture. Either way, when a company recognizes “Polygamy” as a marital status, it cannot escape making a powerful cultural statement at this historical moment of marital revolution.
But these days, it’s much more likely that a company is asking you “demographic” questions — and even questions about your “health” — because they are data mining. The more they know about your personal life, the better they can “serve” you, they would say. There is a gold mine of data for marketers who learn that you list your marital status as “Interlocutory” (which is apparently some sort of legal purgatory between marriage and divorce) because it will influence your buying habits. Likewise, if you’re a 50-year-old man who claims to have multiple wives, your purchasing decisions will be different than those of a never-married female in her 20s.
I suspect that LensCrafters won’t turn away customers who refuse to reveal their marital status or other purely demographic data, and hopefully, they won’t give me the wrong glasses if I accidentally checked “Interlocutory” instead of “Married.” After all, it’s not my fault those checkboxes were so tiny, so there’s an outside chance that I registered as a 16-year-old polygamous, African American male of Serbian ethnicity with questionable near vision.