Someone is always watching us | Wally's World

Hey, all you paranoid people out there, no need to be lonesome. Sometimes I also feel like I’m being watched.

Perhaps “watched” in it ordinary, up-front meaning, isn’t the right word. It can be more surreptitious than that. Like, do some of you feel people are spying on you?

Most of us realize various law enforcement agencies have the resources to quickly uncover the details of our lives.   Even our most secret, intimate details. However, you may not know that private companies and enterprises are doing the same thing, with or without a court order. Even private citizens can do it. Even your neighbor or a total stranger.

There’s no longer any privacy so, if you’re trying to hide that “business” trip to Vegas, forget it. Everything is out there, face up on the table, if someone wants to go to the trouble of finding it. And it’s not much trouble, either. In fact, it’s relatively easy.

As each of us goes about our daily lives, we leave a clearly marked trail of everything we do. Every time we swipe our QFC or Safeway Club Cards, we leave a record of everything we buy, from cereal to condoms. (And make no mistake, grocery outlets are using this information.) Every time we purchase something on credit, whether car tires or a latté, it leaves an indelible imprint. Owing to our war against terrorism, government agencies are allowed to monitor our phone calls and it’s reasonable to believe large corporations can do the same thing. And there are permanent records of every marriage, divorce, birth, mortgage, magazine subscription, medical report, porn viewing and the details of every death.   Some of this information is guarded behind firewalls, but most of these are rather flimsy and can be penetrated by any 14-year-old hacker if he has the incentive – for instance, monetary gains – to do so.

All this being true, no wonder some of us feel like we’re being spied upon.

Webster defines paranoia as delusional and irrational suspiciousness. Paranoid people tend to build crazy and elaborate networks of spies who are watching them and spend a great deal of time analyzing these imaginary schemes. Like, who’s the man, who’s following the man, who’s following the man, who’s following me.

On the other hand, if you believe the government is spying on you – and the government actually is – then, of course, you’re not paranoid. For example, if you’re doing something illegal – if you’re a member of a drug cartel or a militia planning to overthrew the U. S. government – there’s a good chance the DEA or the CIA really is watching you. It’s also true that the FBI keeps close tabs on powerful and influential celebrities, politicians and, yes, by golly, even newspaper columnists. The feds knew all about the affairs of presidents Kennedy and Clinton and kept a close eye on author Norman Mailer.

As you move away from these extremes, the line between reality and paranoia becomes blurred. You may not be a member of the Brothers of Anarchy, but perhaps you know someone who is. Does that mean the government might also be watching you? What if you associate with a subversive college professor? Or what if you brought a lid or two from your friendly neighborhood pusher?

But hey! Don’t ask me who’s watching who. I don’t have the slightest idea. All I’ve done is raised the issue.

Of course, if you don’t care about the privacy issue – that is, if you’re not trying to hide an extra-marital fling or your addiction to booze – than you probably aren’t concerned about much of this nonsense. I’m kinda that way. Still, there’s this strange fella who seems to be watching me from time to time...

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