By Judi Curry
Do you really think that you have privacy in your everyday doings? Do you really believe that no one knows when you are doing something you shouldn’t be doing? Do you really think that the good deeds you are doing are not noticed by someone? Do you have any awareness of just how “unprivate” your life is? Not only is “big brother” watching you, but so are his sisters and brothers, and it is a little unnerving.
A few examples: Those of you that have read my articles in the past know that I have been experimenting with “on-line” dating for the past year. I can’t say that all of the experiences that I have had have been bad, but a goodly number gave me fodder for the articles I have written for the SDFP and OBRag. I have been very careful not to meet men at my home; and have met men at places where I am known by the workers in case I run into any problems. (I haven’t.)
I have been careful not to give out my address for although I have a vicious Golden Retriever, he tends to like men and seldom barks at them as they come into the house. (He is truly a “Watch Dog” – watches where they go, and what they do.) When I give out my telephone number I give out my cell number, which is a restricted number and not only doesn’t it identify me, it does not repeat the number.
Several weeks ago I corresponded with a man on-line. I told him I was not interested in meeting him because he was too young for me – 37. I thought that was the end of that relationship and never gave another thought to him.
A week or so later I was attended a meeting of the Pt. Loma Democrats and had my picture taken with Bob Filner. Somehow Channel 10 got a copy of the picture and after teasing their audience with the “new mystery woman” they sent out over 12 messages to people I know asking me to call them.
At first I was angry that an innocent picture was titillating their audience, and did not respond to their messages. However, the second day of the mystery woman tease, I received a call from a delightful woman that worked for Channel 10. She had found out my HOME phone number and was calling me to set up an interview. I was surprised that she contacted me herself, since there were so many messages left with so many people so I asked her how she got my number. She said she went to “Google” and after searching through their data base, my number came up. I thought that it was a little scary, but didn’t think much of it.
Until. The day after the interview aired on Channel 10, the doorbell rang. Living on a corner as I do I frequently get solicitors dropped off to sell their wares to the community. I am fortunate that I have metal screen doors that are always locked, because when I went to the door the 37 year old man that I had rejected a few weeks earlier was standing on the door step. He told me he had seen my interview and tracked me down using Google. So not only is my phone number listed, so is my address, and, as I found out by checking it myself, a whole lot of other personal things that I do not want published. (By the way – on my on-line dating sites, I do not use my last name.) As I thought back to the past two days, I was angry, scared, upset, and worried about who else might be able to track me – or anyone else for that matter – down.
To carry this invasion of privacy a few steps farther – I am seeing an acupuncturist to help me with a developing problem relating to my breast cancer surgery in 1995. Since I bruise easily – the aspirin a day thins out my blood – she suggested that I purchase a product called “Arnica” to help ease the bruising. I went on-line to look it up and ever since that day every time I go to a website – no matter what website it is – I find an advertisement for “Arnica”. I know that I never had an advertisement for this product prior to finding out about it from my acupuncturist. (I paid $11.95 for it on EBay – these advertisements tell me I can get it now for $4.57!) Obviously some body, some company, some cyber net private eye is keeping track on what I am ordering on line.
And there is more. My daughter and I are going to flying to Lake Oswego to visit our 90 year old Aunt. Both of us have done research in flights, renting a car, and staying at a hotel. Now, when I go to different sites that have nothing to do with Lake Oswego, I am shown an advertisement for hotels, car rentals, and flights. I took a tally today of how many times one hotel came up every time I switched web sites. The same hotel came up 7 times, and the funny thing is that the motel does not have any rooms available for the dates we are going to be there. But what the hell? I went to a dating site and found the advertisement for Arnica; I went to a restaurant site and was shown the beautiful hotel in Lake Oswego that was available; I went to Dollar Rent-a-Car and shown the prices for a rental car in Lake Oswego without inputting that city.
Just now – after writing this article and sending it to my editor, I went to my Facebook page. And guess what awaited me there? Another advertisement, smack dab in the middle of the comments from my friends that started out, ” . . . . have you booked your reservation at the hotel in Lake Oswego yet?” Like I’m going to forget. But this is overpowering; and almost enough to close out my account with Facebook.
Almost, I said, because the network allows me to have contact with the students that I have have housed over the years. But enough is enough. I do not need to reminded what to do, when to do it, and by little nerds sitting in outer space watching my moves.
I don’t know about you, folks, but this scares the shit out of me. Not just for me, but for my children, my friends, my relatives. What is sacred anymore? What is this pie in the sky that can put their finger on my purchases, my inquiries, my writings and broadcast it to everyone that wants to find out about me. I wonder if when the time comes to board the plane to Lake Oswego I will find myself on the “do not fly list.”
The word “privacy” is only a word. It has no meaning. It doesn’t exist. There are no secrets anymore – we are truly living the “big brother” life – and I don’t like it!
Doug Porter says
With regards to the ad tracking you talk about: it’s a fact of life.
Facebook and most commercial sites would not exist without the ability to throw advertising at readers relevant (or so they think) to their internet browsing. The general audience banner-type ads internet sites tried in the early years were regarded as failures, ie, the advertisers got no discernible return.
You can turn this off by disabling or managing your computer’s cookies. Here’s an article relevant to most types of computers and browsers:
Also there’s a program called adblock that filters out many of these ads on popular internet browsers:
Thanks, Doug. I am looking into both of these programs.
Wren Osborn says
The self-advertised “world’s most private search engine,” ixquick, might give some semblance of privacy.
Dana Levy says
I am fond of the saying ” I’m not paranoid, but, I am sure someone is following me.” This metaphorically said while wearing my tinfoil hat and glancing repeatedly over both my shoulders. Yes, privacy as we like to (probably somewhat romantically) remember it in the good old days is a thing of the past but we most likely never had it then either except the media was different then. Everybody knew everybody else’s business then too, as the communities were way smaller , and gossip ran rampant then too making grist for the mill. The speed of today’s information highway just makes it all instantaneous and we are prone to look in wonder at the efficacy of the entire system. The current generation is probably used to it by leaps and bounds ahead of us mature individuals and even as they make the same and new missteps like we did, they are light years advantaged by the system and give it nary a thought as to who knows what, where, when, and why about them and their business. The FBI, NSA, and CIA have nothing on twitter, facebook, youtube and/or other such sites. Monica Lewinsky is probably doing just fine and thriving in today’s world even with all her past disclosed indiscretions, not to mention her cohort Bill C. (still quite the commanding personality and adored by multitudes). My motto is and remains that “nothing is secret if you utter one iota of it to anyone, trusted confidant or not.” So we all must be better internalizers and self-keepers of information of that which we don’t want broadcast out to the world, and, perhaps even beyond. We are all at the mercy of the expedient and our personal information is neither private or protected, not to mention the whole “identity theft” wing of the personal information diaspora.
Dave Rice says
Yeah, welcome to life on the interwebs…it’s been creeping me out for years, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that Big Brother is going to get to know me, and he’s going to be incredibly confused by the plethora of topics I read about in the course of any week. Particularly disturbing – my wife asked for a new bra for Christmas two years ago and to this day (because I’ll shop there for a gift once or twice a year) racy Frederick’s of Hollywood ads follow me wherever I go, making me feel like some sort of pervert that can’t opt out of underwear-clad women on my browser wherever I go…
Zach on the side says
Yeah, as has been mentioned, this is the tide of the times. But if we reflect, we can see that our fears aren’t usually matched by any reality. Everything is known, so “someone could…” But do they? Sure, children and women are preyed upon, but that’s nothing new either.
Why would you be on a no-fly list? Who cares that you’re going to Lake Oswego? This is all just more “junk mail,” only much more in your face. Personally I don’t order much online, and I don’t seem to get hunted by Big Bro.
John Lawrence says
What amazes me is that a few times I have ordered one or two products from some online site, and for years after I get sent in the snail mail huge catalogs from the same companies from whom I will probably never order another product again because I won’t be in a position of needing those products again. They have evidently wasted far more money on mailings to me that the paltry profits they made on my one or two meager purchases.