Making It Easier

Copyright © by Len Holman, 3/3/13


  Itís not enough that the social networking sites and the search engines (Google, this especially means you!), and all those must-have-the-latest smart phones all either trackóor have the capability to track, or deny trackingómost of America.  The gun lobby constantly frets that the so-called ďuniversal background checkĒ is just a ruse for registering every gun owner in the country so all 300 million-plus weapons can be confiscated personally by President Obama going door-to-door (Wayne LaPierre, are you listening?), but they SHOULD be fretting about Americans who are being traced or who WILL be traced by the latest surge in technology-based trickery.  

  Itís not enough that the government monitors millions of phone calls and text messages a day, most from cold-call life insurance agents or drunks trying to get a cab or Aunt Rosa calling to see if the tamales got there without damage.  Not too many terrorists call each other to plan the next attack, but still, the government listens in, the government reads our emails and checks our photos, and there is so much information gathered, our government canít even process all of it.  Now we are on to the next phase of our governmentís monitoring program, and the thing is, the thing that defies all American mythology, not to mention logic is:  we WANT this next phase.  

  Google has some glasses which will give the wearer directions, internet access, maps, and various other forms of information, including the ability to translate those mysterious road signs in China.  Apple is rumored to be coming out with a ďsmart watchĒ which is a wrist-version of its phone, with apps and neat stuff.  It is also rumored that Appleís watch will also make and receive calls.  There are also plans to include sensors in clothes, for warming and wicking away sweat and maybe baking a potato in your pocket while skiing in Aspen.  This is not pie-in-the-sky stuff; itís all in planning and development and is starting to show up on the market, especially in health and sports stores.  

  All this is made possible by Bluetooth technology which connects the user to, well, everything.  There is a commercial Iíve seen on TV (remember plain old TVs?) where a couple dressed in warm-weather clothes is landing on a snowy runway, and the hubby whips out his phone, starts the car in the parking lot and turns on the heater, setting the temperature to a comfy seventy-two degrees.  The next scene shows the thinly-clad family rushing to get into the pre-warmed car, smiling and nodding in approval.  Ah, the blessings of technology!  

  We want to be connected in the worst way, and it IS the worst.  Your prospective employer sees your party pics on Facebook and decides to go with someone else; your car tells you to turn right at the next light (and letís hope there IS a next light.  Some rural areas are not mapped); and not a person-to-person meeting in the whole batch.  Soon, it is predicted, we will have clothes jammed with sensors which will do everything to make life a paradise, and this trend includes the Post Office, which announced it will sponsor a line of tech clothing to help it make it a few bucks, since it canít get Congress to lighten the burden the legislature imposed on it, and since it canít even break even, it might as well go into the clothing biz.  But why do we want to be MORE connected to the grid?  Why do we complain about government intrusion and then suppose that all this Blue-toothing is going to escape Big Brotherís notice?  

  Now, I donít expect an electronic SWAT team to show up at peopleís doors any time soon, but why make it easier for the government to do what lots of people are afraid of them already doing and are sure they eventually WILL do?  There is, apparently, no stopping this trend and I can envision all the paranoid NRA and fellow-travelersí groups leading a second American revolution to shed the governmentís gaze entirely.  If you want a car which is already wired for wi-fi, fine.  If you want to be tracked in every major city with cameras on every pole, fine.  If you donít mind knowing that drones will be monitoring every waking (and sleeping) moment of your life, or that Google Earth will be peeking down your chimney, fine.  

  But if you DONíT, on principle, want the government to intrude on every aspect of your life, then donít play the tech game.  Keep your lusting isolated to fantasizing about your neighborís wife and your pining for the loss of Twinkies.  Many people are outraged that their supervisors at work are keeping track of every keystroke their employees make, but they donít seem to understand, or care, that cyberspace isnít like flirty-talk across the cubicle wallóitís forever and its contents are at the mercy of just about everyone, especially the government.  Iím not saying our beloved government isnít as pure as mountain water or as noble as Gandhi, but just in case it isnít, why makes it easier for it to snoop, intrude, monitor, and catalog us?  Why, oh why, make it easier?


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