by B. Elwin Sherman
Lots of talk these days about how we’re losing our privacy. Everywhere we go, we are being watched. Everyplace we speak, our voices are being recorded. This is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that politicians are now too often caught unawares in the act of saying what they really mean, and being exposed when telling the truth can ruin a political career.
If you’re growing more uneasy about how public everything you do and say has become, I’m here to help. This column nearly ended right here, because I’m not in the habit of attempting the impossible.
I’m old enough to remember a time when “Big Brother is watching you” meant that I had to spend the day babysitting my younger siblings. Now, I’m not here to wax nostalgic about how life used to be less complicated because it was, but I think that’s where we’re headed.
(IMPORTANT SIDEBAR: Just so you all know, except for what I’m doing right this second, I don’t “text,” and I can’t even think about anyone who will text while they are driving. They apparently missed that Sir Isaac Newton class on what happens when a dumb object meets an immovable one.).
There are ways on the internet (I’m not telling you how, because that would make me an accomplice in fanning the flames of your paranoia) to not only see where you live, but to click along a photo-logue of your street to your house. I’ve just done it to myself, and yep, there’s my front door, my tippy porch chairs, my snowplow-flattened hydrangea, and the neighbor’s dogpoop on my lawn for everyone in the world to see. Looks like I’m not home, but let’s see if you are:
Aha! I see you! It seems that my friend Ray still hasn’t hauled away that rusting lawn tractor, Betty really needs to get after those rain gutters, and Teresa has a new birdfeeder. And, hey, Robert! So, you can afford a new roof, but where’s that fiver you owe me?
Uneasy enough yet?
I’m thinking about where I went today, and I conservatively estimate that I was photographed at least 100 times. A simple walk through one downtown and a drive-through another for a few errands, and tonight I’m a star in the video highlight vaults of stores, banks, town halls, post offices and parking lots.
There’s now undeniable hard on-camera evidence that I like pizza with extra cheese, I took TWO Hershey’s kisses from the bank teller’s bowl, I used the bathroom at Wal-Mart, and I didn’t return my shopping carts to the corrals. There’s also a strong presumption of proof that I had too much coffee this morning before leaving the house, because I also used the bathroom at the town hall and the supermarket.
I’m recklessly assuming that I was only filmed entering said bathrooms, and not while I was in there. If I was, you’ll notice that I did wash my hands and put the seat down.
Personally, I’m not worried about being spied upon by the USA. We’ve been assured that this is not happening, and that just because Uncle Sam has the ability to eavesdrop on our phone calls, he wouldn’t. I don’t care. If fighting terrorism and world peace can only be achieved by my government spending 20 minutes listening to me trying to enunciate clear enough for my electric company’s crappy voice recognition software to understand what “YES…I…PAID” means, that’s fine with me. Spy away.
Sorry, but unless you’re willing to get rid of your computers, credit cards, automobiles, bank accounts, licenses, phones, utilities, mortgages and jobs, you’re forever now in the roving eye of public domain and I can’t help you (mission impossible accomplished).
Still, the government is a rookie sleuth compared with the advertising biz. There are people out there devoted to discovering that I’m a creamy not chunky peanut butter kind of guy, then filling my spambox with creamy peanut butter offers, which then generate a counter-offensive from their own chunky division.
And, as this information is out there being sold and re-sold, the inevitable jelly ads start to roll in.
I also expect, now that I’ve gone public about my bathroom breaks, that the coffee coupons aren’t far behind.
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Senior Wire News Service syndicated humor columnist writes from Bethlehem, NH. Copyright 2015, all rights reserved. Used here with permission. You may contact him here via this blog. His new book: “Walk Tall and Carry a Big Watering Can,” is now available at nhbooksellers.com, and via his blog at witbones.com.