A million years ago in junior high, we cracked ourselves up with word play by touching the edge of off color and almost “dirty” humor, something kids delighted in back then – just ask Prince Albert, he is after all still in the can. Along with the Prince there was a certain Seymour Butts who had a life under the bleachers and an IP Freely who swam laps in the pool. Yes, life was simple and such jokes and comments were a way to pass time between classes and growing up. My how things have changed and sadly not for the better – there aren’t even words to explain what we have lost.
Today students are texting and sexting more than innocence, and the cost in what they will lose will never be fully recognized – unlike the naked images on a cell phone sent through a cell tower or ISP that invisibly holds all of us hostage. We have certainly come a long way from AM radio call in contests hoping to hear our voice over the air as the sixth caller.
Although I am a self taught computer nerd, I still shock myself at what I understand and can accomplish. However that aside, I was recently amazed by the tentacles of the invisible ISP address housing my thoughts and actions when I sit in front of my laptop. This discovery occurred due to recent changes in my work schedule when I needed to adjust the ISP address assigned by my cable carrier. I assumed it would be unnoticed … wrong – I noticed and so did more than a few others!
Clicking a button to change my ISP address for security reasons was shocking and I might as well have been sitting next to a chuckling “I told you so” George Orwell when it went into effect. My email stopped working and Facebook locked me out repeatedly demanding security checks to prove my identity. Making an online payment suddenly required a text confirmation through my cell phone, and best of all the search engine I Google close to a hundred times a day suddenly came up in the language of a new county, and so I might add did all of the advertising geared to my subliminal browsing pleasure! Brother, you would have thought someone big was watching over me.
It is a given to a rational mind that sending unmentionable pictures on a cell phone of our naked facts is obviously stupid. Likewise, making threats on Facebook or harassing someone behind the untouchable venue of our computer should be treated no differently than a bar room brawl. However, our thoughts, locations and abilities should not be in this category and for the most part none of us realize just how our actions are really being watched.
Redacted is a word my era knew well between celebrities, radicals, hippies and the war. Our government at the time kept numerous files and reports to insure the safety (??) of the country. Seriously, did they really think Elvis used peanut butter and banana for code suggesting a military attack? Nevertheless, those files and others like them from the military are now mocked with their thick black lines and cut outs deleting words and sentences. Still they are tangible and we can hold them thanks to the right of information act, and shake our heads wondering what people were thinking or why they needed to know what we were.
If they had discovered this ISP control they would have known, but that era like the Amazing Kreskin just couldn’t make secrets appear behind closed minds no matter how hard they tried. Right now sitting in my office of clutter, gothic humor and comfort from a time long past (yes, there really are wacky clackers on the wall) I claim sanctuary. Usually I wear sweats or pajamas wondering if the day will come (if it hasn’t already), when my webcam will be activated without my knowledge so someone can make sure it is really me at the keyboard – hmmm which one of us will be behind the Foster Grants?
Vonnegut had Harrison Bergeron and Jim Carrey gave us the Truman Show, letting us ponder the possibilities while laughing at the absurd. Today however, there is something far more than simple possibility at work. Many of us willingly share our every moment in tweets, photos and posts for a few minutes of unknown albeit ego gratifying attention (and yes, people are noticing). Are we really that far removed from the science fiction fantasy of microchips tracking us like lost pets by a government making sure we aren’t in the dog house? Run Logan Run!
Life was simple once but we weren’t satisfied, we wanted more, we wanted all the answers – even if the questions weren’t ours to ask. Everyone’s business suddenly became our business, and getting ahead of the competition was all that mattered. So we find ourselves now isolated from one another for the most part if not physically, almost certainly emotionally and intellectually. The bonds of friendship and family which once lived a lifetime have become LIKES on a computer program. So are we any better for it?
Today, I made bread like my mother used to make, and also sat in front of my computer for a while. The smell in the house was wonderful, even if the news I read through wasn’t. It brought back memories of my childhood when the family would sit in the kitchen and enjoy the first hot slices loaded with butter, talking while the TV blared in the background with the evening news.
Sadly though my parents are now gone and my sisters and I are estranged and scattered across the country, so there isn’t anyone to share my warm homemade offering, unless of course if you count my Big Brother who has probably already figured out a way. I am quite certain you see that either I will soon be getting an unwanted email for a new country loved recipe, or a coupon good for my next purchase of yeast before the week is over. Keeping that in mind it’s a good thing I decided to make bread instead of cookies, because even though Mom was well known for hers in this world I’d rather keep mine private as long as possible.