Saturday, January 19, 2013

Are You Lojacked Tonight?

For decades, my wife, The Doc, carried a voice pager.  At all hours of the day or night, the little box would screech and then loudly announce, “Dr. Milliorn, please call the ICU.”  She was never out of reach from that little black box.  I loved it, being always able to find your wife was a great luxury.  I can remember thinking that pagers should be surgically planted behind the ears of brides shortly after the wedding ceremony.

Once, The Doc was shopping at the mall and I called that voice pager.  “Honey,” I said loudly.  “Don’t pass any more of those twenties.  The Feds are onto us.”

The Doc, like every other surgeon in the country, was an early adopter of cell phones.  And that, too, was a blessing for me.  I could always find her when I needed her—usually to tell me where I had lost something.  And other similarly incredibly important trivial nonsense.  I loved her cell phone.

I did not, however carry a beeper.  I liked my privacy.  I can distinctly remember the first time I went rabbit hunting and my damn cell phone rang.  There I was, miles out in the desert, enjoying the bright clean summer sunlight while I was getting very close to assisting a few bunnies in passing away from induced plumbism—WHEN THE DAMN PHONE RANG!  I should have shot it and been done with the damn things forever, I didn’t, and the infernal devices multiplied like, well, rabbits.

Now, we all seem to be as tied to our little electronic devices as if they really were surgically planted behind our ears.  And they are finding ever more intrusive ways to enter our lives.  With Google Maps and Google Earth, you can look into the driveways and backyards of every home in America.  Apple has an application built into every iPhone and iPad that will let you see where every device your family owns is located 24 hours a day.  I wonder how many divorces a year happen because a spouse can see where their partner’s phone is located.  Did I really intend to tie myself to a GPS device that tracks and records my movements? 

This constant communication and tracking has led to new profitable enterprises.  Since my movements are tracked, companies can now determine exactly how often, how long, and where I shop.  The census could never collect data like this.

Look at the ads with this blog.  (And please click on them--that’s what pays for the beer that fuels this blog.)  Do the ads have anything to do with a recent search you made on Google?  Are they trying to sell you something similar to what you recently viewed online?  Did you think that was an accident?

The government recently announced that it is spending $3 million on a pilot project to monitor Facebook to see if they can predict epidemics and possibly guard against biological warfare attacks.  So, it is your patriotic duty to post every sneeze and sniffle.  And rest assured, your government is truly concerned about your health.  At least digitally.

Large research companies are partnering with game companies to do online stealth research.  Marketing choices will be hidden within free online games where the player’s choices will be carefully recorded.  Why hire a small focus group when you can secretly exploit millions of people all over the world?

I thought the future was supposed to be flying cars and space stations.  I was promised colonies on the moon and robots.  How come all I got was a rechargeable leash?

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