Humankind has outgrown the need to have monsters hiding under our beds. Now we let them hide in our phones, computers and microwave ovens.
OMG! I think I see a giant camera lens on a long stalk sticking out of my microwave oven! It uses X-rays in addition to visible light, so it can look through the kitchen wall into my home office and watch me type. That’s right. Type. Maybe pet the dog a little or something like that. No contact with the Russian government. No secret conversations with Barack Obama or other members of the Deep State who are bent on overthrowing America’s elected President.
Then there’s the RF (radio frequency) monitor in my office that logs keystrokes from my wireless keyboard and sends them to a gigantic NSA superdupercomputer that decodes its encrypted signals. Zounds! That’s scary!
Except, of course, that none of this is actually happening. Nobody is spying on me because I am boring. Nothing I do is very important in the overall scheme of things. Foreign spies, and even our own government, would learn nothing of interest by keeping a close eye on me.
I know a lot of people who worry about the CIA, NSA, DIA, and other agencies illegally spying on them. In fact, somebody I thought knew better just told me that he’s worried about Gang Stalking. Umm… okay. We’re talking about somebody who is a pretty good tile layer and all-around construction guy, but there is no conceivable reason an intelligence agency would be interested in him.
My gang-stalked friend has been lonely lately, and he was short of work for a while so he doesn’t have much money right now. He’s almost a poster boy for low self-esteem. What if he really is being gang-stalked, whether by a government or a (dare I say it) gang? That would mean someone was taking an interest in him. And that would make him feel a lot better about himself. He might even believe he’s important.
If a national government takes enough interest in you to stalk you or wiretap you, there’s no way you can think of yourself as inconsequential, is there?
If that government — or the One World Black Helicopter Socialist Movement, LLC — considers you important enough to scan your hard drive for secrets, Wow! You must really be somebody!
You do encrypt your hard drive don’t you? Just in case?
You probably have a 72-character Facebook password, too. What about your Gmail account? Two-factor authorization, right?
A brief confession: I do have an encrypted hard drive and I do use two-factor Gmail authentication, but that’s because I do some writing and editing work for a high-end software consulting company, and it’s my duty to make sure any corporate secrets they share with me are reasonably safe. Not totally safe, perhaps (if there is such a thing), but AES-safe, anyway, which is generally considered good enough for most purposes.
My personal data? Other than my debit card number, I don’t transmit a whole lot of confidential information over the Internet — or have any stored on my computer.
Do you? Other than the naked photos of your ex-boyfriend, I mean. And do they really show anything most of us haven’t seen before?
I’m not saying you should be totally security-stupid. You shouldn’t leave your laptop visible on the seat of your car, for example. Or publish your Social Security number on Twitter. But worrying about KellyAnne Conway infiltrating your microwave? Or Donald Trump or Barack Obama (whichever one you feel is more likely) “wiretapping” you?
Ain’t gonna happen, people. And chances are, nobody has hacked your stupid TV and is using its camera (assuming it has one) to watch you watching TV. Your webcam? Turn it off. Cover it with a bit of tape if you like. Ditto the camera on your phone.
But whatever you do, don’t use security fears as a way to overcome the feeling that you aren’t important to anyone. Instead, use the same energy to do some volunteer work or something else that will make the world a better place, which is the real way to be important!
Robin “Roblimo” Miller is a freelance writer and former editor-in-chief at Open Source Technology Group, the company that owned SourceForge, freshmeat, Linux.com, NewsForge, ThinkGeek and Slashdot, and until recently served as a video editor at Slashdot. Now he’s mostly retired, but still works part-time as an editorial consultant for Grid Dynamics, and (obviously) writes for FOSS Force.