Grace Kim knows what it's like to want to commit suicide — and what it's like to decide to keep on living.

Grace (who identifies as gender questioning and uses they/them pronouns) knew they were gay at 4 years old but, growing up in a conservative religious family, told no one. "I was so scared of letting my secret out that I stopped talking," Grace explains of the 20 years they spent selectively mute. "I was completely suicidal. I gave up."

The day before Grace planned to commit suicide, Grace decided to have the best day of their life. "I just went around San Francisco, my hometown, just trying to be happy for one more day, and I actually had the best day of my life," Grace says.

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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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