Somebody knows everything about me and I was the one that told them.
For those of us who lived through the height of the cold war, including years of mistrust between governments, and also through Watergate and years of distrust of our own government, the concern over being spied upon is never far from the back of our minds.
We read “1984,” listened to our leaders warn us about the new satellites orbiting over our heads with giant telescopes that could read our newspapers through our living room windows, and were certain we saw Soviet spies lurking on every street corner, but nothing prepared us for what we are seeing today.
Forget about fake service vans parked on the street by the house with listening devices to monitor our conversations. We now have invited the listeners into our homes, workplaces and virtually everywhere we go, from restaurants to concerts and sporting events, and even as we take our dogs to the park for a walk.
They know every item we buy, what size shoes we wear, if we are trying to diet, and even how many steps we took today. And we provide all the information freely. In fact, we are paying for the privilege of feeding the information to them.
Of course, I am talking about the internet and our smart phones. We do our financial transactions on them, pay our bills, schedule our appointments, buy our tickets, and even order our pizzas. And out there somewhere in the dark shadows, all of this is being collected and analyzed and we are being fed suggestions for our next steps in life.
Think I am exaggerating? Just pull up your search engine and look at hotels in Lincoln, Nebraska. Don’t provide any personal information, just view a few websites. Within a few days, likely a few hours, hotels in Lincoln, Nebraska will start showing up as ads on your next searches, or possibly on your social media site visits.
I’m not a computer geek, but I know about “cookies” and their use on the internet, and I realize most of the suggestions are a result of previous activity. But still that creeps me, a long time cynic and conspiracy theorist, out a little bit. I can’t help but believe that I am only making it easier for “big brother” to track my every move.
Especially when my wife and I will have a discussion about a product or service, or a trip somewhere without looking it up on the internet, and, within a few days, ads will pop up on my screen for that same item or service. I try to rationalize that it’s a coincidence, and that our discussion has made me more aware of an ad that has been there all along, but I didn’t notice it. But I am not doing a good job of convincing myself.
I wonder if those “dark web” guys have hacked my phone and they are listening to my conversations. Or it could be my computer. Maybe my smart-tv has a listening device installed. I am a little slow to the newest technology, so my refrigerator is not yet connected to the web. Off topic, but I really don’t see me taking a peek inside my fridge while I am away from home, just because I can. Just not overly concerned what those three-week-old leftovers are plotting.
Maybe I am being a little paranoid. Why would anyone go to the trouble to listen to my conversation about a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, since before I go, I am going to get on the net and tell anyone who will listen when I’m going, where I will be staying, and what I will be doing while there?
Even as I write this, I am creeping myself out.