I’ve found another reason to fear Big Brother: He’s trying to put Dear Ol’ Mother out of business.
On my way to the comics in the newspaper the other day, my eyes strayed to the science section, where I was smacked by a high-tech scare. Apparently, several manufacturers are implanting products with microchips called radio frequency identification — RFID. And once they kick into high gear, those nosey RFIDs probably will call your doctor if you buy more brownies that your diet allows.
Mom used to be the person who clucked when I snuck.
According to The Associated Press article, microchips already are built into some computer printers, car keys, shampoo bottles and clothing tags. Retailers say this helps them keep shelves stocked, cut shoplifting and guarantee that products aren’t counterfeit.
OK, that sounds reasonable so far.
The next step, they say, is placing chips in all products and outfitting the doorways with RFIDs to scan your purchases as you leave the store, charging it right to your debit card. No more waiting in line! No more shoplifting, either.
But think about what comes next: Manufacturers will have a database of everything you buy and know your shopping Achilles heel! They can call you personally.
Mom used to scold me about wasting money. “Burton William,” she’d say, “You don’t need any more Play-Doh. Now go put it back.”
It’s embarrassing to have her do this now that I’m 48 years old, but she still harbors hope of teaching me common sense.
Not the RFID people. They’ll blitz me with deals to entice me deeper and deeper into the toy department – or the electronics because they’ll already know I want a big-screen TV – to the point that I won’t be able to afford the grilled chicken salads and raw carrots I so crave.
(Nuts! Those RFIDs probably will call Mom to claim I was buying bacon burgers and hot fudge sundaes again.)
But it gets worse.
The technoids envision a global network of electronic “sniffers” to scan tags in public settings to instantly identify people and their tastes so they can beam “live spam” at them as they move about.
They also plan sneaky houses they slyly call “Smart Homes,” filled with sensors that would monitor possessions, eating habits, medical supplies, clothing tastes and so on, reporting them all to the stores who sell them.
RFID refrigerators would keep tabs on the food, zapping shopping lists onto interactive TVs and beeping whenever the sour cream or orange juice went past its expiration date.
I thought that’s what mothers did. Technology wants to make moms unnecessary. Or maybe let them have a chance to use the La-Z-Boy.
Remember that loose floorboard in your bedroom or that trick panel in the back of your dresser when you were growing up? We all had hidey-holes to keep private stuff from our moms or baby sisters. It sounds like we’ll need to do that again, say maybe build a little clubhouse in the backyard where we can eat Ding Dongs in private.
Of course, we’ll have to run there naked lest the tags in our T-shirts act like tattle-tale little sisters and rat us out to Big Brother.
Life was less paranoid when moms were in charge.