With Facebook in the news again because some people were surprised to learn that the massive amounts of data the platform harvests about us might be used in ways we don’t like, I thought it was a good time to tip toe behind the curtain a bit and get a sense of the person Facebook sees, and sells, me as.

Everything you do while logged into Facebook, every application you use your Facebook account to access, every mobile device, every website you access through the platform or that you access Facebook from is all tracked, collated and organized into easy to digest categories for the purposes of marketing. Facebook is a massive enterprise, but most people tend to see it as a public service: living their lives through the lens of their newsfeed and never once considering the fact that none of us are paying for the service the platform provides us.

If you walked into the grocery store and found that they were giving the goods away for free, you might be a little suspicious.

“So, then how do you pay your bills?” You might ask the bagger as he hands you this week’s spoils, free of charge. However online we, for some reason, imagine websites to work like a socialist enterprise. One where we get things we want. That’s it. End of transaction.

Of course, the internet, for better or worse, is an extension of real life – and just like in real life, nothing is ever actually free.

The price we pay for admission to the happening spots on the internet like Facebook is, as you may have guessed, the plethora of personal information we willingly offer up in the form of likes, caps lock tirades and clicking on that ever-important “share” button. That data is fed through the platform’s algorithms, and in some cases, human employees, to be spit back out in easy to consume demographic information that is then used to find advertising that hits you just right.

Those ads are what pays Facebook’s bills. As much the younger generation may think the world runs on likes, utility providers are behind the cultural curve on accepting them as currency.

If you don’t like the way Facebook or other platforms use your data, simply stop using them. In fact, that’s really one of the only ways you can elicit change in the model that has proven so effective for Zuckerberg and Co. If, however, you still plan to use the platform to keep up with your nieces and nephews on the other side of the country, share funny memes and occasionally check to make sure your ex’s new husband is still fatter than you. The best you can do is be aware of what’s being collected about you – and how you’re being sold to advertisers.