Every day a new story of hacks – Yahoo, Equifax, etc. – whereby my PERSONAL information was “compromised” (i.e. stolen). But it was stolen along with a billion other people. It may be excessively philosophical but if you’ve stolen a billion identities have you really stolen any?
I’m not getting a gun because my crazy racist neighbor has one and I’m not changing my passwords every time some massive global entity gets electronically violated by 400 pound guys sitting on their bed. It’s bad enough my bank panics seemingly every six months and sends me new ATM cards to the point where I can’t have any ongoing monthly charges. I’ve grown weary if updating your payment information NY Times!!
Of course I find it unnerving when I do a Google search for lawn care and start getting adds for Scotts Grass Seed on every page I go to. Not to worry, I’m going to buy some pants at Duluth Trading and then the Scotts ads will be replaced by Duluth ads. That kind of internet trolling by cookie is so commonplace we don’t think about it. Big Brother supposedly knows everything we do and (hit the) like (button).
But they don’t!! I am actually heartened by the truly bad information that I keep receiving by e-mail.
My Congressman (R-Ovaltine in Human Form) Leonard Lance sent me an e-mail starting like this:
“Dear Bryan: We know you”re pro-life.”
Dear Leonard: you know nothing about me.
If my Congressman thinks I’m pro-life then he surely isn’t getting any “intelligence” from any reliable sources. I’m sure Yahoo, Equifax and my bank know I’m not pro-life and it’s not like that comes up on your credit report. Of all of his constituents, I’m probably the most open book about these things and so clearly neither Leonard Lance or any of his crack staff reads this blog, or has ever Googled his name and hit upon our humble “thoughtstablishment”. His office clearly does not actually possess information on who in his district would be pleased with his vote on a 20-week abortion ban, which strikes one as political malpractice, especially considering that it’s a pretty 50-50 district getting younger, browner and more progressive every day. It’s kind of political malpractice to vote for a 20-week abortion ban in New Jersey to begin with. So, okay, my oatmeal-like Congressman made a statistically dubious assumption with absolutely no data to back it up, and trumpeted it out like a loud wet fart during the quiet portion of a symphony at the Met. The good news is the system is stupid, it doesn’t know shit.
ESPN sent me this missive:
“Hey Bryan, you like hockey, right?”
So if my rotting bruised Macintosh apple at the bottom of a supermarket display bucket Congressman doesn’t know anything about me, that’s pretty bad but understandable. But ESPN? ESPN is a massive telecommunications organization (owned by a massiver telecommunications organization) that I actually use A LOT! I watch their programming almost everyday. I go to their web sites pretty much everyday I have access to the internet and electricity (which is every day since Super Storm Sandy). They’re in the business of knowing what I like. It’s their web site that hits me with the Scotts and Duluth ads fer cryin’ out loud!
Granted they just asked the question “Hey Bryan, you like hockey right?” but the inference in the question is that “we know you like hockey and we’re contacting you to let you know that we have hockey you’re going to like.” Again, you know nothing of my work ESPN.
No, I don’t like hockey and I’ve never given ESPN the slightest bit of a whiff of an inkling of a notion that I did. I have not lead ESPN on in this regard. My sports viewing and web surfing record is clear on this. Never have I watched a hockey game on ESPN or searched for hockey scores, or the hockey standings or clicked on even one stupid story about stupid hockey. My affection for hockey is rivaled only by my great fervency for the pro life position in that both are represented by absolutely zero devotion! The closest I come to pay any attention to hockey whatsoever is my passionate use of maple syrup on pancakes and pork belly. And I do not ever profess that endearment on ESPN, ever, so there’s not room for error here.
The massive global telecommunications behemoth is stupid too. It too doesn’t know shit, even though I’ve told them so much.
I suppose it’s like what Mrs. Polislice says to me all the time “you hear me but you’re not listening” where I’m trying to listen to her latest story about a conversation with a person I really don’t know or care about, but my attention is split (probably with ESPN). So when she quizzes me on the conversation, and she will, I kind of know the big picture (I’m very confident in my ability to multitask) but the details that she demands I know (why?), elude me. Like me, companies pretend that they’re listening but collate information in a haphazard way, with no real care to what’s coming in, and so it gets spewed out in the same indiscriminate way.
So no, I do not yet fear Big Brother. But if I get an e-mail tomorrow like this:
Hey Bryan, you like maple syrup, right?
I’m buying a gun!