I don’t usually consider myself to be paranoid. I am not likely to fall for most conspiracy theories. I mean, I think there really were shots from the book depository, and not from the grassy knoll. (Proving my age, I know!) I don’t think that the government orchestrated the events on 9/11.
But I did read “1984” way back in the 70’s, and I do worry that Big Brother is watching me. Sometimes I get nervous that the government tracks our every move and thought and phone call, especially when I think about legislative gems like the “Patriot Act.” Then I realize that this is the same government that’s trying to run the Department of Education, and I feel better. There is no WAY that multi-layered bureaucracy could ever manage to find me, much less track me down. I hope.
There is, however, a much more sinister force at work, tracking us and trolling through our on-line activities. That force is the business world; those warm and fuzzy people who spend every moment of their working lives trying to get us to spend more of our money on whatever it is that they sell.
Don’t believe me? Look to the right side of your email screen and check out the ads. I noticed this phenomenon about a year ago (I am not the most high tech person in the room, sorry.) I was emailing my sister about various mundane topics, including her cat and my Mom’s leaking roof. I glanced off to the right side of my gmail page, and saw a flashing commercial, advertising cat food. Huh. “Funny coincidence”, I thought, until I saw the ad for a roofing company just below it. If I email about my headache, I get an ad for a pain clinic. Write about making chicken parmagiana, and there’s an ad for tomato paste. It can be sort of funny at times; you can make a reference to some public figure, calling him a “pimple on the butt of humanity”, and voila! An ad for acne cream appears within moments.
I find it mildly creepy, but so far I’ve been able to shrug it off as just the cost of participating in modern life. I have never felt truly bothered by the long arm of capitalism until tonight.
Now I am more than a little freaked out.
A few days ago, you see, I wrote what I thought was a mildly amusing, slightly pathetic blog post in which I whined and moaned about my uninteresting New Year’s Eve. I recounted (with a little bit of artistic license) a very frustrating interaction that I had had with the mega corporation Comcast. They weren’t particularly efficient or organized, and I ended up having a little tantrum after dealing with them. Thought I’d get a laugh or two from my very small group of readers. Ha ha, poor old Momshieb, she’s a wreck! Then I kind of forgot about it.
When I logged on to my email after work, I saw that I had a new comment on my blog. Yippee! I am not exactly the Pioneer Woman here, so every comment is a source of amazement and pleasure. I clicked to see who had enjoyed my little rant.
“What?!” I opened the blog, clicked on comments, and reread this one, just to be sure that I wasn’t hallucinating.
Nope. Not my over active, slightly paranoid imagination. This was a real, true, honest-to-goodness comment from a “person” who apologized for the poor performance of Comcast, and offered to help me to “straighten out” my bill. Say, WHAT?!?
How did “Mark” from Comcast find my teeny tiny blog post out there among the hundreds of millions of posts that went up in the past two days? What could this mean?
Clearly, Big Brother and the Mega Company are out there, monitoring and trolling and phishing through all of our words, looking for key phrases (like “Comcast really SUCKS”.) They latch on, and send out a cyber message.
I have a funny feeling that “Mark” is a Mac, but what do I know. I suspect that this company is aware that some of its business practices are crappy, so it keeps its electronic eyes focused out there to pick up each and every complaint.
Well, Comcast, here is what you have achieved with this middle aged progressive anti-capitalist. I am completely and totally creeped out to think of you lurking out there monitoring my speech. I don’t want to contact you to fix anything. I just truly want to find a way to avoid doing any further business with you at any time.
Meanwhile, I think I will complain about Starbucks coffee for a bit. Maybe I can get a free latte.