Thursday, January 15, 2015

Me, myself, and I

When my eldest son was about 7 or 8 years old, he fell down and scraped his knee. Somehow, a strand of grass became encapsulated under the skin and it took surgery to remove it. (At the time, medics had no idea what was in the bump. They only knew that he had to be absolutely still while they removed it.)

This was in the 1970s, and the law then said you did not have to give your Social Security number to anybody, any time. As a matter of fact, requiring the
Social Security number was against the law.

However, hospitals had already begun using it as a convenient check to make sure two persons by the same name didn't get mixed up in the records. I understood what they were trying to do. I refused to give them my number, citing the law. Probably because it WAS the law, my son did get his surgery, and I didn't have to give them my number. Or his. Also, 30 years ago, megalithic corporations were not so common.

I do not want to live in a cave in the mountains of Idaho, and I believe those that do carry privacy too far. They and I, however, would agree on certain aspects in a conversation.

One reason I do not want a smart phone is the excessive opportunity for privacy invasion it presents. I am cautious about what I say on Facebook because I know that I am being tracked. Laws have changed, so my social is widely used today. It worries me some. My state doesn't link driver's licenses and car tags, and I wonder if those states have more identity theft or white collar crime. I would not say I am paranoid. I do think people who surrender privacy because they "have nothing to hide" are ingenuous, another word for stupid.

I interviewed two computer scientists who consulted all over the country on firewalls and privacy issues in the 1980s. They predicted then the hacking problems we are now experiencing. They said the business community didn't want to spend the money on protection, and businesses also saw an advantage to customers having little privacy protection. They said California, Colorado and Florida were states at that time concerned with privacy.

One of the experts told me,"People who would never dream of going through someone else's wallet will get on a computer and get the same information with impunity."

And this was almost 30 years ago.

I am bemused that George Orwell was right, in a way, when he predicted the privacy invasion in "1984". It is just that almost all the invasion is by corporations, not government.

I have a friend who is always getting involved in movements and causes. She used to send me petitions to sign on issues she knew I cared about. I did not sign them. I do believe groups can sometimes affect change, but only with a lot of effort over a long period to get incremental gains. Unfortunately, I am a pessimist who really works on positive attitude. As a result, I tend to act independently more than seek a like-minded group. I have a couple of exceptions in my life.

I am "on the grid" more than I would like, and yes, it has made life more comfortable. I do get a bit testy at social expectations of who I am as "a grey-haired grandmother." You seldom see men my age identified as "a grey-haired grandfather," though I have seen it once or twice recently. Wonder how THEY felt?

One of my resolutions this year is to become more technically nimble. It will enrich life and allow me to do some things that currently either stop or slow me considerably. I will continue to research, read, and listen to information on how to live in the 21st century with at least more than a modicum of privacy.

Someone recently told me I was a Luddite. Oh, I'm not one. But I get along surprisingly well with people who are.


JPG said...

>I am bemused that Huxley was right, in a way, when he predicted the privacy invasion in "1984". <

I respectfully and sincerely submit: Of all the bloggers I read, you are easily the best all-around writer. But, for once I find you in a mistake of fact - - -
The novel 1984 was written by George Orwell.
If you choose to edit the attribution, I'll be happy if you delete this comment.

charlotte g said...

I'm leaving the comment. And correcting the text.
And aw, shucks, for your tact in your alert.