Five years ago, the thought of having to wear a GPS ankle bracelet so authorities could track your whereabouts may have been humiliating, but a suitable alternative to prison.
Now, thanks to online social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter, these tracking devices are on the path to extinction as millions of Americans choose to be voluntarily tracked, preferring a virtual imprisonment over a life of privacy.
Okay, so I’m guilty of falling prey to these temptations — namely, for networking reasons, finding long-lost friends, and helping the FBI shave off man-hours as they keep tabs on my subversive humor and satirical attacks on government institutions. I realize that humorists/satirists are somewhere between Jehovah Witnesses and Salvation Army Bell Ringers on the FBI’s watch list, but every minute I give back to the bureau can be better spent tracking down the real criminals: offshore bankers and video pirates.
By the way, did I mention I’m a Conspiracy Theorist? Yeah, you heard me right Mr. FBI Guy; stuff that in your secret computer file and smoke it. Ever since I read George Orwell’s 1984 in eighth grade, I’m convinced that Big Brother is watching my every move. For example, I refuse to use automatic toilets in public restrooms, sensing they are elaborate tracking devices that record your whereabouts and activities via the red lights.
Therapist Bob said this is absurd, but I’m not about to take any chances and flush my rights away.
And now we’re seeing the trickle down effects of Big Brother as local authorities are getting into the social
spying networking game. Just recently a female college student was reported missing in Iowa City after a night of drinking with her real friends. Hmmmm… I’m sure this never happens in a college town, thus raising red flags down at the police department.
Local peace officers eventually tracked her down, claiming they used Facebook to discover her whereabouts. They did not say how they did this, but I imagine they sent her a Friend Request. Nothing like getting one of these in your notification box: “The Iowa City Police Department wants to be your friend: Confirm?”
By the way, if anyone receives the following status update from me, you know something is amiss and should text message the authorities immediately:
“T.M. Lindsey is enjoying shopping for women’s underwear at Wal-Mart.”
Anyone who really knows me would know that I would not be caught dead shopping at Wal-Mart. And if I was caught dead, the county coroner, thankfully, would be the only witness as to why I was shopping there in the first place. I’ll plead the fifth on this one.
Then along comes Twitter, for those folks who just can’t leave home without their personal trackers.
I will admit that I have yet to take the full plunge into Twitter because I’ve developed a false Messiah complex and worry that a bunch of my followers will start their own narcissistic pilgrimages into the blogsphere and start publishing their own musings from the basement while wearing pajamas and women’s underwear.
I am not wired to handle this much responsibility.
And in Twitterville, if you are not being followed, you are following somebody else, thus completing the full circle of consensual stalking. Iowa City’s neighbor, Coralville, has gone Twitter, including its police department. Not sure who would intentionally want the police department following them, but I imagine it’s the same folks who actually talk to pollsters when they Break & Enter their phone lines.
But what does the Facebook phenomenon reveal about our need-for-attention culture? On a basic level, isn’t Facebook the mere equivalent of standing at the end of the diving board at the virtual pool and shouting to all of your friends: “Look at me! Look at me!”?
Are you ready to take the Facebook plunge?
Moreover, Facebook serves as a virtual playground for adults, who can tag and poke each other without fear of having their recess stripped from them. These behaviors, however, serve as naughty gateway behaviors leading to bigger and more dangerous behaviors such as writing on friends’ walls. “Friends don’t let friends write on friend’s walls.”
It won’t be long before Facebook goes below the neck and launches an adult version that begs the status update question: “What are you wearing right now?”
“T.M. Lindsey is not wearing women’s underwear at the moment.”
::T.M. Lindsey also writes at Say Something Funny::