Good-bye, it is about that time – the time to join my great grandfather on the hillside in Dayton

What a shock I got today; I am dying and may not have much time left to organize my affairs.  I found standing in front of my house, by the mail box reading my mail – I am still hyperventilating trying to grasp the enormity of the situation.  This morning, I received a  well written invitation to make my “final” arrangements and spare my family the grief and expense of  the gruesome details and difficult decisions.  The sender of the lovely letter promises to burn my body and give the sterilized ashes to whoever comes by to collect them; if no one does they will discreetly dispose of them; you know, like flush them.   Apparently there will be no grief in my death, only in having to decide how hot to make the fire and how to dispose of the “remains.”

Privacy has become one of the major issues of our times; it was always important, but not the subject of endless debate the way it is now.  The reason is simple, technology.  Today’s technology allows instant, easy and constant communication.  However, it also leaves a very deep electronic trail that can be tracked and followed by governments, advertisers, criminals, newspaper reports and indignant lovers.  Anyone with a serious interest in your activities, interests, vital statistics, whereabouts and finances can, with enough diligence, find out anything they wish.  So, for example, Rupert Murdoch’s crew could get the private information of victims of crimes, competitors and the royal family and then use the information to sell newspapers and the London police could look at the Facebook page of thousands of unsuspecting Londoners.

Google and its ilk gather every bit of data they can and then sell it to advertisers who want to target their ads specifically to individuals. Facebook and other social media sites, online newspapers and other information sites display ads to you, for you based on your previous history. There is no shortage of people willing to pay for information about you and your life.

And although junk mail is on its way out with the postal service, it still exits and it too is based on your personal information.   Somewhere, someone sells some key facts to mass marketing mail advertisers, junk mailers.  Who could it be the seller, surely not the government of the country or the state?   But who else knows how old I am to the moment?  Age is the key selective criteria for AARP and many other organizations and companies.   Every person in the country meets the American Association of Retired Persons soon after their 50th birthday; they meet the AARP the same way I met the people from the crematorium today – through the United States Postal Service.   Routinely, I get invitations to learn how to better invest my retirement funds, to supplement my medicare, brochures on the finest medicines for increasing my urine flow, sleeping better, acquiring more energy and of course enhance by sexual performance – everything an old man needs to endure the  last, painful period of his life.

No one invites me to riots, mass demonstrations in one of the great squares of the world or to hang glide, skate board or climb Mt. Everest – nothing that a young man might want to do. No instead, I get only invitations meant for the old, the very old tottering on the edge of the grave.  Most days I am amused, not annoyed or  bothered by a fact of life for anyone living in a capitalistic society – our society is built on commerce, people buying and selling and more specifically on buying – consumer spending is the foundation of our economy.  The country needs for me to spend money and thousands of people are out there willing, no eager, to help me do my part.

I wasn’t even annoyed today, just a little frightened and confused – do they know something I don’t?  How did they find out about my terminal condition? Does the DMV secretly collect DNA and then process it looking for disease, genetic predestination to alcohol and murder or homosexuality?  They might, I know the DMV or some agency sells my basic information, age, auto insurance coverage and address or at least did once.  I know because I am on the list of lists, listed under old.  The lists get sold and resold over and over again – but the original source was a government agency – and that is annoying.

And here is my main point – If you have something to say to me, or want something from me, you had best hurry – I have no idea how much time I have left and I am afraid to call the DMV or the IRS to find out.  Sorry, but if I don’t get another chance it was really nice knowing you.

1 Response to “Good-bye, it is about that time – the time to join my great grandfather on the hillside in Dayton”

  1. 1 Duncan Winn September 6, 2011 at 10:14 am

    At least you won’t be turned into Soylent Green.

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