Every step we take …

Dear NSA, GCHQ, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other government agencies and multinational corporations that are data-gathering and spying on us: Gosh, you must be tired!  All those texts and email messages and tweets to read, phone calls to monitor, webcam footage to watch, page-click statistics to compile and analyze: are you getting enough sleep? Any fresh air and exercise?

Here’s an offer you can’t refuse

Spying, ca. 1916. How far you’ve come!
I’ll tell you everything you want to know about me. Then you can cross me off your list, which should give you time to get down to the gym today. Not a place I ever visit, as you know, but you need to keep fit to stay vigilant. I’ll skip my address, birthplace, passport number – you’ve got all that already.

I assume you know …

Via Google Earth, that my backyard is landscaped with raised beds surrounded by gravel (yes, I should have used antique bricks, but I’m on a budget, remember?). You even know which raised bed my cat poops in.

That I’m an Anglophile (all those trips to Britain) and bibliophile (library records, credit card receipts). You know my politics (tweets from the New York Times and the Guardian). You have a list of my friends and know which ones I met in high school (what was our mascot? Yes! The Bruins!).

Doubtless you’ve got hooks into ancestry.com, so you know that I’m descended from agricultural laborers, a dressmaker, a map seller, and a postman. HIPAA be damned; my medical records are at your fingertips. Congratulate me on my blood pressure and feel free to prod me gently about my LDL cholesterol and blood sugar (normal, but borderline). Maybe send a drone over the yard with GIVE UP CHOCOLATE written on it? Not that I’d be able to read it, because trifocals (as you know).

But you might be feeling a bit stymied re. me

I seldom text, and when I do, it takes me so long that you probably fall asleep before I finish. I don’t have GPS in my car, although my FasTrak® device tells you how often I cross the Golden Gate Bridge. (Beautiful, isn’t it? I mean, what a magnificent piece of architecture.)

So here are some things that you may not know about me.

If anyone attacks california …

I will fight them on the beaches! Well, one beach. Goat Rock, probably. I’ll be with the harbor seals, training them to bite ankles and armed with seaweed to throw into the faces of the invaders. (I couldn’t possibly use a gun. I hate guns. You must have that in your files somewhere.) So, not much use to you on the war front, but I’m honest about my taxes. Does that count for something?

Are you a corporation that wants to sell me things?

So young! Though without Young.

Forget it. I don’t watch TV so I never see your annoying commercials. I listen only to public radio. If your Internet ad interferes with my web browsing, I vow never to buy your product, which I probably wouldn’t anyway because I’m old enough to have pretty much everything I want. Except more books.

If I learn that you treat your employees badly – I’m looking at you, Amazon – I try to use you either (a) not at all or (b) as sparingly as possible. You make it hard, as Stephen Stills once sang to Judy Blue Eyes, but I do my best. And btw, maybe ask your customers how many of us would be willing to wait longer and pay more for our stuff if you’d pay your employees better and give them proper breaks.

I’m a bit slow on the uptake

Hey, do you think Stephen snuck a double meaning into “you make it hard”? Because that’s only just occurred to me, 45 years after I heard the song for the first time in my sorority house at university. (What was our secret password? That’s right, but your Greek pronunciation sucks.)

More for your files

In the 6th grade, I memorized the Gettysburg Address. I’m a poor cook. Green is my favorite color. October is my favorite month. I dislike handbags. I make up songs for my cat.

Is that enough? Will you ever have enough?

In his famous address (about which he poignantly said, “the world will little note nor long remember what we say here”), President Lincoln vowed that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.” How does all your spying on the people serve that goal? Send your answer to email address. Which of course you know.

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