Look Who’s Stalking

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Ever get that sneaky creepy feeling that you are not alone? That you’re being followed? Whether you’re walking alone in the middle of the night through a dark alley, or sliding past a thickly populated mall at peak time… ever get the feeling so strong that you feel like rebuking yourself for your baseless paranoia? Well, the good news is… you don’t have to feel that way anymore. You’re not being paranoid. The bad news is… holy crap, you’re not being paranoid! You ARE being stalked. And there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t outrun your stalker, you can’t wear him out, you can’t outsmart him by wearing some cheap dorky disguise and hiding under the bed, and you can’t just sit back and pray that whoever it is, he will sooner or later run out of funds and just give up. No, your stalker is relentless, getting smarter by the day, and will never run out of funds, because he is at least partly funded by – spoiler alert – YOU! No, no… I’m not suggesting that you have a split personality disorder and that your alter ego, a certain Tyler Durden, has hired professional spies to follow you around. Partly because I like not being sued, and partly because my point is entirely different. Your sleepless, tireless, relentless stalker is your very own mobile phone.

The mobile phone has grown from a convenience gadget to a must-have necessity of day-to-day life. Nine out of ten people who read this blog alternate between the computer screen and the mobile phone screen every couple of minutes. The tenth reader is actually reading the blog ON his mobile. From celebrities to sportsmen to fishermen to waitresses to undercover secret agents – the mobile phone is as indispensible to humanity as Fox News is to a Sarah Palin election campaign.

Fox News
The mobile phone is so ingrained into society that I wouldn’t be surprised if the next stage in human evolution involves touchscreen dials by your right ear. Mobile phones have been so widespread that the landlines and public telephone booths are part of the endangered species list. For the next Superman reboot, Clark Kent may have to wait in line at the Gap’s changing room to become the red and blue man of steel. So note to Lex Luthor – The key is in planning… strike when the Gap has a sale in the middle of rush hour.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Sheesh, Hamish. This is old news. Of course they can track you through your mobile phone. Of course, the Government’s Big Brother tactics are going to eventually take a toll on the individual’s liberty and freedom. That is exactly why we are forming the underground grassroot revolution to free ourselves from an Orvellian future. You have cookies, we have guns. Join us.”

Err… No, thanks. And, no. I was NOT talking about the Government. I have here a news snippet about German politician, Malte Spitz, whose phone company kept record of wherever he went… and created a detailed profile that revealed when he crossed the road, when he took an airplane, when he worked, when he slept, when his phone was unreachable; basically drew up his life on an interactive map that tracked him over six months. They can throw up any and all the statistics on his life without him being able to deny or confirm it, cos, really, who keeps such meticulous track of what they do themselves?

 

“And we propose to show, using these impressive pie charts, that Mr. Jackson was in the bathroom 472 times this summer… for an average period of 6.3 minutes.”

Every time he’s gone to the local pub; every time he’s gone out to rent movies, every time he’s gone to an AA meeting, they kept track. We’re talking about a stalking phenomena that is unparalleled since the days of Mary’s little lamb. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the case of Mary’s little lamb was a shocking tale that got widespread media coverage back in the days. Mary, whose last name has not been revealed – I presume, to protect her identity – apparently was stalked with relentless gusto by a farmyard animal – a lamb, whose only description on record was that it was little and that it’s fleece was as white as snow. It may not be enough to go by, but even back then, it was enough to rule out the notable black sheep who had exactly three bags full of wool.

The menacing lamb followed Mary all over town, no matter where she went. It went so far as to follow her to her school one day (It is not clear whether Mary was a student or a faculty member at the said school). While this one occassion apparently had a happy outcome – the school kids laughed and played because of the curious entry of the lamb – records do not show what happened after this. Whether the kids were bitten by the animal, whether Mary managed to get rid of her pursuer, or whether the tale took a more gruesome twist.

But considering that the earliest records for this incident surfaced in the nineteenth century, and noting that lamb stew was a popular dish even back in those days, It may be safe to assume that when they said “Mary had a little lamb”, they meant she had it for breakfast, along with parsley, ground pepper, and whole wheat bread. But these are only idle speculations in the absence of data, as there is no historical record as to the conclusion of this tale. With a mystery like this in the air, I find it curious that most historians absolutely refuse to investigate the matter.

 

If only Mary had left some cryptic clues!Angels & Demons | Imagine Entertainment

If only Mary had left some cryptic clues around some vague symbols…

But the point is that in Mary’s case, though we don’t know what actually happened, at least we have a simple enough solution – lamb stew. But this doesn’t work as well for the mobile phone trackers… You cannot stew multinational corporations. It’d probably taste like grease, and is virtually guaranteed to upset your stomach for weeks.  What you can do.. is to understand how they work and try to confuse them. Maybe you can change your number every week. Maybe you can  simply exchange your phone with a colleague’s and you two can take each other’s messages… and repeat with a different colleague every day. Maybe you can keep a spare phone at work all the time and give the illusion of aloyal workaholic. Maybe you can find out where your mobile service provider lives and keep your mobile outside his window – make the stalker the stalkee, or even better, slip it into his wife’s purse when she goes out shopping. Maybe, if you can afford to lose a cheap, really lightweight phone, you can tie it to a bird and let it free.

 

“Sir… I can’t be sure… but I think Mr. Jerome might be Superman.”

But all of these tactics mean that you would have to forego proper use of your phone, and there are very few people who can afford to do that. Also, some methods mean losing the handset, and you can’t afford to do that, cos… well, you’re still funding the phone company’s stalking operation. The only sensible option is to fight the system in court. Or make stew. That works just as well, cos these corporate schmucks get away with murder in the legal system. And we can’t afford to boycott mobile phones in the modern world. I guess we simply don’t have much of a say in this. Mary sure had it easy.

The only thing left to do is to adjust to the situation. In the world where Mr. Spitz’s bowel movements may be recorded in a remote location, we should use the services of these records more often. When you need to remember your own whereabouts and details of yesteryears, call your operator.

Operator: How can I help you?
Caller 1: Yeah, I need to know how many times I used the toilet last year. I need to tell my doctor.
Caller 2: Buddy, I can’t find my car keys. I KNOW I had it with me last night. Give me a rundown on where all I’d been in the past 12 hours. And make it snappy.
Caller 3: I need to settle a bet. When was the last time I visited my mother-in-law… she lives in 214, Oak street
Caller 4: Answer me quickly. I am under oath. Where was I on the night of July 12th, 2009, between 8 and 10 pm?

Sure, they may squirm and make puny excuses, but you KNOW they have the info. You just need to push harder. Give your information back to you. The movie The Hangover would have been about 5 minutes long. I don’t know what the plot is for the upcoming sequel, The Hangover 2, but chances are that it is already obsolete. Unless the movie is about the protagonists being chased by angry sheep. In which case, of course, be prepared for a stewing climax.

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7 Responses

  1. Ginger says:

    Under all that banter, i dictate a fair amount of seriousness.
    I’m giving my phone a side eye here. To stew or not to stew……..

  2. Rachna says:

    Loved your take on Mary had a little lamb 🙂
    In my hostel days of juvenile humor, we used to think that Mary had a little lamb — which then gave rise to innumerable questions about the lamb’s paternity 😉

  3. Profile photo of hammy hammy says:

    @ginger:
    Well, if you take away the banter, the site just becomes a footnote at best. But yes, be prepared to stew your mobile at a moment’s notice. Be ready to throw it on the ground, let a truck run over it, roast it in fire, run it through a meat grinder, and melt it in a fire. Just make sure you don’t overreact.

    @rachna:
    Hey, I’ve heard that take before… It was a short verse. It went – “Mary had a little lamb. The midwife fainted.” As for the paternity, in case your ex-hostelmates are interested, I nominate the ba ba black sheep who kept three full bags of wool in reserve. It sounds like an awful lot of preparation for a sheep without guilt.

  4. Suparna says:

    Great work , as usual. Being the 1/10 population who are reading this on their phone… I have a news excerpt on this topic:
    In April 2011, two US based technology researchers reported that a file stored on many iPhones & iPads was a log of all the geo-locations visited by a user and was copied to people’s personal computers when they synced their devices.

    US & European governments reacted by initiating investigations into Apple’s practices. The Attorney General of U.S. State Illinois has already asked Google & Apple to explain their location data collection practices. And to date, 2 iPhone users have sued Apple for inter alia, invading their privacy.

    Scary, huh… !

  5. Profile photo of hammy hammy says:

    @suparna:
    Scary? Gulp… Damn right scary… Et tu, Googlus? Then die, Ceasar. Well, Ceasar’s dead anyway, so it can’t hurt. Scary for all phone users…. But it’s also scary for us marketing graduates… in another way. What do they intend to do with all this data? They’re gonna start expecting a lot more gruntwork from us…

    Imagine, they pick an MBA graduate, and tell him “Ok. Here you go. You have the 24 hour surveillance chart for 24000 of our customers, 18000 of our competitor’s customers, and 8000 random people who just happened to walk past these guys. Now get them all converted to loyal customers. You’re the marketing expert, and now you have the data, and you have 48 hours… Go!”

    “Emm… what??”

    “Time’s awasting. Go go go.”

    “??? Emm… there are… 4 Ps in marketing, so… I mean… we could… do a SWOT analysis… Maybe, I think we can… what if we have a working lunch to discuss the… err… you want me to what with the what now?”

    Oh, I hope the courts put a stop to this, or we MBA grads are gonna be pressurized like never before.

  6. Manjeera says:

    Agreed that ur writeup is funny… but i am gonna say..”they have my info?…wats the big deal!” They also have a billion others! and guess what! the way the world works rite now..if their server went down and they missed a few hrs of someone’s life, all they need to do is chk the guy’s fb account!!
    seems to me like ppl r dyin to be stalked….

  7. hammy says:

    @manjeera:

    Ah, my dear Manjeera… I agree that people are running after the camera and wanting to tell the world what they are doing… People are waaay too free with information these days. You have Twitter accounts that are so specific that they say “Will brb. Gotta take a dump”

    Yes, it’s a case of TMI – Too Much Information, rather than too little, and everyone’s in the party… They all want to have the world follow them around so they can cry about the paparazzi on their blogs and Facebook updates.

    But here’s the thing… They want to do this on their own terms. They all resent big brother watching them over their shoulders. Big brother reading their blog and tweets, they’re ok with. The guy who tweeted that he needed to take a dump? Maybe that’s just his alibi, so he can feel free to wear a disguise, sneak out and maybe watch a chick flick. Or maybe he’s secretly Batman.

    Of course, chances are that he actually IS just taking a dump, but he doesn’t want people to come in to the room and check. That’s the invasion of privacy that people resent.

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