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They're Watching

The date was March 5th, 2021. A cold Friday afternoon. I had just come in from taking my chihuahua out for a short walk. As I walked up the stairs of my town house a thought came to mind. When I was a kid, I was in a candlepin bowling league. I even had my own set of bowling balls. I remembered having them at my moms house, but I didn’t remember if I had brought them to my house when I moved 4ish years ago.

Normally, useless thoughts like this would pass because I would be distracted by something else. On this day, I wasn’t working, and I was the only one home. I had listened to all the podcasts I enjoy. And as anyone who has been home on a weekday, there isn’t much on TV for anyone between the ages of 4 and 74.

So, I was on the hunt. Anyone who knows me, knows looking for things is not my forte. But, I was not to be deterred by flaws.

My search started in my spare bedroom which also doubles as my office. I tore apart the closets, listening to a country music playlist I mad on Spotify in college. After I sufficiently searched the room, an idea popped in my head. It was just after lunch time. My fiance had just been texting me. Perhaps she knew where they were and could tell me before I tore the place apart.

I sent off a text inquiring about their location. A swift response of, “I think they’re on the shelves in the basement. If they aren’t there I have no idea.”

Two things came to mind here. The first being, we have shelves in the basement? I was just down there not 2 hours before lifting weights. I don’t ever remember seeing shelves.

The second things was hope. I really didn’t want to walk down to my moms house again and try and search her house for these bowling balls. That seemed like quite a pain in the tuchus. And I’m sure my mom wouldn’t want me pawing through her garage looking for them.

So downstairs I went. A quick scan of the area revealed a set of shelves opposite the washer and dryer. No wonder I never noticed them. I don’t venture near the laundry very often.

Needless to say I found them. They were indeed on the middle shelf next to some box. Not only did I find the bowling balls, but inside the bag was a score sheet from a hotly contested match against my dad. For those keeping score at home, I beat him by 2 pins. Which is a rarity.

After that 20 minute exchange and then examining each ball individually for some reason, I put them in my upstairs closet for safe keeping. I also placed the folded up score sheet under a Gopher catalog to try and flatten it. Then I went on with doing whatever with my day.

That brings us to this morning. After a bagel and cup of coffee, I decided to throw on a little YouTube to kill some time. Again, I was the only one in the house. My fiance went off to get some alterations for her wedding dress. I didn’t even begin to think about what that means. I just said ok and nodded.

Anyways, I grab my phone and open up to the app. Along with the usual ads for crap I don’t care about, what comes up but none other than Candlepin Stars & Strikes. For those unfamiliar with this obscure TV program, it aired on WNDS TV in New Hampshire in the late 90s and early 2000s. Of course, this piqued my interest due to the prior day’s quest for the missing candlepin balls.

Now this phenomenon isn’t rare. This happens all the time in life. You think of something and then, poof, it’s all you see for a while.

But this is a little different than just noticing things. My phone knew that I had just looked for my bowling balls and then suggested I watch Stars & Strikes. It had definitely either read my text message asking about the whereabouts of my bowling balls, or the camera watched my search.

The amount of technology in our lives today is staggering. From TVs, iPhones and computers to even smart cars and household appliances. There’s little doubt in my mind that some of these things are listening. In fact, Amazon’s Alexa is designed to listen to you and do things for you. So it’s no surprise that the companies would use this free data to market to you. I mean, it’s probably in the terms and conditions that none of us read. There’s a great episode of South Park about that.

I am not a big conspiracy nut. So don’t think I’m sitting here typing this with an aluminum foil hat on, and coat hangers hanging in the windows to deflect the satellite signals coming from the Andrimoter galaxy and the giant lizard illuminati deep state. That would be ridiculous. But there is absolutely no question in my mind that technology is listening to us. Richard Nixon was listening to people in some hotel 50 years ago. I think it was the Howard Johnson’s but I’m not sure.

Not only are they listening, but they are clearly reading your search history. I know the majority of men reading this just abruptly clicked off to go clear their history from the time their wife or girlfriend was shopping. But that’s not what I mean. Let’s say you Google different brands of sneakers to see which ones you want to buy. Then later on, you turn on Facebook and what pops up? Sneaker ads of course. It’s pretty harmless marketing, but doesn’t it make you think?

I accept the fact that there is almost definitely someone listening to me right now. I’ve heard people say, “Doesn’t it worry you that the government or whoever is listening to you?” To that I say no. Their response is then, “but what if you do something they don’t like and come get you?” Let’s be honest, if the government wanted you, they’d already have you.

To the company or government agent who is listening to me now I say this: First off, how goes it? I hope you’re being compensated well. You’re going to be pretty bored for quite some time. You may get a cheap laugh at some of the nonsense I either look up or say. But after the suggestion YouTube made this morning, you’re in for a long afternoon of Dick Lutsk and Mike Morin commentating about “the best candlepin bowlers from all over New England” and the cheesy early 2000s TV graphics. So buckle up.

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