“They” Really Are Listening!

This is a true story. I don’t know who “they” actually are, but you can draw your own conclusions: Is someone really listening to our private conversations through our digital devices? I have concluded someone absolutely is! Here’s the true story:

Several months ago, near the beginning of the pandemic lockdown in Atlanta, Steve was in the kitchen cooking dinner. I was sitting at the kitchen island talking with him “face-to-face” as he cooked. We were not texting each other. We were not emailing one another. We were physically talking to each other in the same room. No digital devices were in use, though our iPhones were on the kitchen island next to us.

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Our conversation was inane. I was trying to remember the the names of the characters in the vintage cartoon show, Rocky and Bullwinkle. Specifically, I couldn’t remember the spies names: Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. I was telling Steve that once upon a time I had a t-shirt of Boris Badenov holding an old round bomb with a fuse on it, but I hadn’t seen the t-shirt in several years. Today such imagery would probably be considered inappropriate.

Steve actually remembered their names. His mind just works that way. We also discussed other vintage cartoons we watched as children: The Jetsons, The Flintstones, The Roadrunner, and on and on.

I want to emphasize that this was only a verbal conversation. Neither one of us searched the internet for the answers. We didn’t ask Siri.

That evening, after dinner, when we went to watch some of the RV channels we follow on YouTube, I was shocked. YouTube suggested we watch vintage cartoons and recommended several specific ones, including some of those we had discussed in our conversation. Apparently a number of the really old ones are in the public domain now or were simply available on YouTube illegally.

YouTube has never before recommended any cartoons for us to watch–ever. My immediate conclusion was that somehow Google, owner of YouTube, was listening to our earlier verbal conversation. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the Google apps I have on my phone (which includes the YouTube app itself) listens through the microphone.

Or, maybe, the mic in the TV in the den next to us was spying on us? It also has a video camera in it. Or, despite Apple’s claims of complete privacy and encryption, maybe Apple was listening in and selling our information that quickly.

What do you think? Is this a simple coincidence? If it is, it’s one hell of a coincidence! Or do you think “they” are listening to our private conversations. Oh, and I’m sure it’s legal. I’m sure I gave “them” permission to listen to everything I say and do when I agreed to some million-word terms of service agreement nobody ever reads.

Since this happened, we have had 2 additional situations very similar to it.

We have grown accustomed to “them” spying on our internet use. I searched the CarMax website for a specific make and model of car and immediately CNN’s website flooded with CarMax ads for that very car.

But I hate this invasion of privacy, and now it has reached a new level. I have grown to hate technology. The corporations controlling it are controlling us, manipulating us, listening to us, spying at levels that would make th KGB jealous, and we have no choice in this.

Good news: During the move, I found my t-shirt!

My Boris Badenov t-shirt