Is it me or is everything we do in business and life beginning to result in giving someone the ability to stalk us? If you sit back and think about it, there are far too many people watching far too much of what we do every day, and entirely enabled by technology, we all try to drive deeper into the culture.
This morning I got up and instead of walking down the end of the driveway to get the newspaper, I turned on my iPad and downloaded today’s edition of The Wall Street Journal. Not 10 minutes into my day, and I had touched in with my first stalking incident. Unlike the old days, when I sent my dog down the driveway to get the newspaper, every ad I saw and every story I read had the capability
of someone knowing I had looked at it. That information, of course, is now in some database somewhere building my profile.
After a cup of coffee and a bagel, I did a quick check of e-mail to see if anything needed immediate attention and there they were -- more requests from people I don't really know very well who want to friend me on Facebook, link up with me via LinkedIn or want to stalk me on Twitter.
Am I the only one that has a sick feeling when an e-mail Monday morning alerts you that someone you were hanging out with at the football game that weekend has "tagged you in a photo on Facebook?" Being tagged on Wednesday or Thursday is bad
enough, but Monday?
All these social media plays have legitimate reasons to exist, but how they really are being used is the bigger question. Into what database is your information finding its way? Call me paranoid but I don't even use the same search engine consistently. I rarely use Google because I know everything I type in is being profiled against my other searches and is sitting on a Google server somewhere waiting to have a query run against it, or worse yet, to be hacked.
Swipe your ATM at the donut shop and you’ve fed that database. Access a Web site from your cell phone -- tagged again. Use one of those free frequent- or preferred-shopper cards at the grocery store, and you've been profiled. I'm sorry, but I don't want anyone knowing how much junk food I buy. Use a credit card, and it gets worse.
I love technology but I hate how it is being used to track everything we do. There are so many databases jammed full of information about each and every one of us, there can't help but be a breach at some point. Your medical records, spending habits, what you search for on the Web, what products you buy, how much debt you carry, what donut shop you frequent, whether or not you are on a diet are all sitting in databases and being freely traded.
We are all being stalked, and we don't even realize the degree to which
it is happening. Heck, it used to be you had to hire a private detective to trail someone. Now all you have to do is Google them.
Whatever happened to the day when you used to be able to call someone without your name popping up on a screen before they answered?
There's only a few ways to fight this. Ditch all those frequent-buyer cards. Start reading the paper in print instead of online. Give your doctor, and everyone else for that matter, a fake social security number and, most importantly, start paying in cash more often.
Oh, and the next time someone wants to be your friend
on Facebook, follow you on Twitter or link up with you on
LinkedIn, make them buy you a beer before you accept. Who
knows, perhaps they might become a real friend and even
exchange some worthwhile information.
BACKTALK: Make something happen. Robert Faletra
is CEO of Everything Channel. You can contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.