Monday, 23 January 2012

Ticking Boxes

I just came across this entry in my notebook, dated 17/6/11. It seemed appropriate.

Having filled in four pages - no, six pages - of questions about my experience traveling with London Midland today, I rebelled only on the final section. I had been generous with my answers, despite frequent disappointments regarding lateness, slow-running services, and entire service cancellations seemingly at random. I had been generous. But I lost patience when I got to the end, where it asked whether my gender was Male (M) or Female (F). 

Needless to say, I didn't answer. Then it asked for my name, and I didn't answer that either. My reasoning went something like this: my gender is not something I can limit to male (m) or female (f), so I won't answer. My name, whilst to me signifying little more than a convenient way of attracting my attention, may well be used by well-meaning data-inputters as a way of gendering me. They would probably assume I had accidentally missed the gender question, and fill it in for me. My email address would prompt the same response. So, no personal information for you, London Midland.

Which brings me to the real question: why do they need personal information? What could it add to their data to know my gender, my name, my email or my address? I suffered a slight twinge of guilt, thinking "perhaps they won't be able to use my form, since I didn't fill it in fully." Then I thought, "if that's the case, fuck 'em." Serves them right. That'll teach them.

A minor rebellion, but true and mine own. 

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