28
Apr
14

Blogging at Homes in the 21st Century

If you’re just joining the rest of the world in its present state, welcome to the modern world of sharing one’s thoughts via computer in the 21st century. I’m not exactly Mr. Popular. My online postings are typically spontaneous criticisms/philosophies and personal reflections. ‘Not recipes, advice columns, diet or travel journals, religious passages, school calendars, video links or art galleries (which are apparently far more common and popular). So, when I find someone new “following” my blips in the “social media” universe, I have to wonder what made something I shared so interesting.

Most of the time, these “followers” say nothing. And, more often than not, they come with these unusual corporate identities involving everything from hair care to home construction to pharmaceuticals. I suspect this is due to the addition of what we now call “tags” to my posts, or blog/journal entries. A key word might send a signal to some company’s radar system which then sends a team of robots or specialists (PC zombies swiveling mindlessly in their chairs while fumbling with something between their fingers) into action.

As it turns out, that’s just what happened to me recently. And, here’s that story:

It was a mild April afternoon when I felt compelled to pass along a few thousand words about my distrust of modern medicine and disgust with all the commercials rambling about terrifying side-effects (which are necessary to know in advance though they should neither exist nor make people their lab rats). The following afternoon, I discovered a young man with a shaved head and sunglasses–going by the name Barry Swan Pharmaceuticals–“following” my blog. “Well, that’s…interesting,” I muttered before taking a moment to fetch some lunch.

Just as I closed the fridge, I heard a knock at the front door. A stranger–faintly resembling the young man in the picture (with a fuller head of dark brown hair and more flesh in his cheeks)–stood outside in a midnight blue suit (a “twinge” lighter than black in the daylight). I hesitated to answer, fearing all sorts of uncomfortable chats I might end up having. As I withdrew, he knocked, again, stalling me in my tracks. I proceeded to the kitchen where I then heard a loud “clang” or “clap” and jumped back to find the front door ajar. The unknown man remained silent but now visibly restless on the other side. I took a deep breath and confronted the uninvited guest to my doorstep. “Uh. Hi. What can–what is it you wanted?”

Adjusting the clipboard in his pale, waxy hands, the man began, “Mr. (Writingbolt)? I’m here to talk to you about a convenient medical supply service we just recently started and why you should sign up–for a nominal fee–to have any prescriptions you might need right to your doorstep.”

“I-I’m sor– I don’t– I’m not a retiree avoiding nursing homes like the plague.” I clasped my left hand around the outer edge of the door and eased it ahead of the adjacent shoulder. “I’m not even in my forties, yet. Isn’t that what you guys always ask about in your commercials? Being over forty?”

“Mr. (Writingbolt), we’re not so concerned with your age at this moment. The entire nation is getting on board with the new medical insurance system. We’d just like your signature so we can proceed with adding you to our database of potential customers. And, then I’ll be out of your hair. By the way, we sell products for improving the quality and quantity of your hair, too, if you’re interested.”

“Yeah…no thanks. Sorry. Some other time, perhaps.” I don’t know why I even bothered to use such courtesy. As I shut the inner door in his face, I saw him raise an index finger and felt a cold wave of air rush up along my neck and the back of my hand. I didn’t give the whole scene a second thought. [At least, not for the next few minutes.]

Weeks rolled by, and I continued to find new and questionable faces (and some icons instead of faces) tracing my online activity. It’s not the first time such oddities have carried over into my e-mail (electronic mail) box. I’m not surprised (anymore) to find ads for male enhancements and the like though I am grateful most of these get automatically swept into what’s known as the junk folder.

Then, one evening, I thought I saw a car drive by the house with a curious shift in speed. Its headlights slowed to a crawl and then zipped out of sight with an unusual engine sound. Poking my nose through the sheer curtains, I looked for some trace glow of a tail light. All I could see were the amber glows of the aging streetlights and a reflection cast by the table lamp at my back. I lingered for a while, waiting to see if some wild animal might surprise me. [It’s not uncommon for a deer, goose or fox to cross the front lawn.]

Just as I was about to give up my vigil, a searchlight stream cut across my left shoulder. Shielding my eyes, I let go of the curtains and moved toward the table lamp. When my vision cleared, I squinted through the veil and noticed a dark object–roughly the size of a small charcoal grill–hovering outside the window. Another crossed behind the first and curved over the roof. I was only able to make out the shape because the bright beacon had been dimmed. And, now, I could see a small red “eye” glaring at me near the UFO’s base. [Except, this UFO was not from some other planet. It was a “domestic” disturbance of my peace.]

The moment I lowered my guard, the “drone” buzzed back a few feet and began peppering the windows with gunfire. Running down an adjacent corridor to my master bedroom, I noticed one of these flying probes scanning the items laid out on my dresser. A little alarm went off, and the drone paused its data collection to turn its targeting sensors onto me.

Before another window could be shattered, I turned and ducked into the nearest bathroom where no natural light could enter. Here I thought I’d be safe for a moment, at least. I expected to hear police sirens if anyone reported the sounds of gunfire like good neighbors. But, as I counted the beats of my heart, the lagging silence became unnerving. Eventually, I rose from my crouched position beside the toilet and tiptoed back to the picture window where my hands shook as I cautiously fingered the finely cut bullet holes. [Luckily, I had come away from the incident without a scratch.]

I sat down with a book of crossword puzzles and a cup of hot…beverage…for a half-hour before I finally heard a police car easing down my street. The mustached officer waited for me at the front door, and, this time, I didn’t hesitate to answer. But, the questions he proceeded to ask became increasingly uncomfortable. After getting a detailed description of the drone activity, the policeman inquired about my medical insurance plan. At that moment, I decided to cut the interrogation short and excuse myself to take a leak. Officer Ginsborough…or Gingerpecker…told me to watch what I “go around discussing” whether or not I do it online. Then he folded his notepad, settled for a courteous “goodnight” and returned to his station. [Suffice to say, sleep did not come easy neither that night nor any night the following week. It took me two weeks just to get the picture window replaced and two more to afford the bill.]

The next time I had the irrepressible urge to vent my frustrations online, a few days passed before I had another uninvited drone party outside my home. I could barely utter my disapproval before more gunfire sent me diving for protection. This time, they brought some sort of saw and began cutting away a portion of the roof. A brief “whomp”–followed by faint footsteps–sprang from the back door, tugging at my left ear. I felt the warmth from a pair of searchlights before a foreign pair of delicate hands shoved me aside.

Catching a glimpse of curling brown strands–burning red-orange in the path of the probing beacons–I couldn’t focus on the woman’s face as she huffed, “Stay with me if you want to live.”

[And, if you’ve seen your share of sci-fi/action films, you probably can guess how the rest of this story goes. I’ll leave it to your imagination as I remind all of you in the land of blog to be mindful of what you make public from the comfort and convenience of your personal (or office) computers. Those “drones”…they’re practically everywhere. You keep your eyes open and your mouth shut if you know what’s good for ya. But, if you’re going to “follow” or “like” someone’s post, be sure to leave a personalized comment, discussing your interest in the matter. Otherwise, you–and especially I–may never know what’s lurking in the digital shadows.]

 

 

~Writingbolt, 4-25-2014

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