Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ladies Who Lunch

"So," says earnest girlfriend #1, "who hasn't been chipped yet?"

"O heavens, that is such old news!" responds earnest girlfriend #3. "I do not know anyone anymore who isn't, or is admitting to it at least, do you?" she asks earnest girlfriends 2 and 4. All shook their heads in agreement.

"My husband just got an upgrade last week, and he says you cannot believe all the new features. He ordered me one for my birthday and I just cannot wait to get it! I am just so lucky! Imagine all those poor people out there with nothing but the basic model. It gives me chills!"

GF #4 said, "This new one keeps track of his golf handicap, meeting schedules, when the car needs servicing, even airline reservations and vacation plans, and scans at the fast lane tolls as well! Utterly amazing!"

"Well, you do know that they are chipping newborns didn't you? So much more reasonable than the old SS number. Those flimsy little cards you used to have. Said you couldn't laminate them but, if you didn't, the thing fell apart. Modern technology is incredible. Oh! I almost forgot, and it was the one thing I was so excited about showing you ladies."

With that GF #1 stuck one well manicured hand into the middle of the group. "Do you see it?" she asked.

"See what?" they responded in unison.

"There, right there on my pinky finger nail." All eyes strained to see.
"It is the latest in pc's! Satellite run, voice activated. Saves so much time. If I have forgotten to send mom, or anyone, an email, I simply 'talk to the hand'," she giggled. "Not only that, but because they were designed to be compatible with the chip, it can find mom or whomever I am trying to reach immediately. One big plus is that it has freed up all sorts of room in our media center. I couldn't live without it, and honestly do not know how I got along without it before!"

Although she had been dutifully chipped, and supposed she had a fairly recent model, GF #2 seemed to be rather subdued in the midst of all the oohing and ahhing over these latest technological advances. Something in her felt at odds with what had been happening in the last few years. Harmless enough, everyone had said about the new chip technology. What a time saver! What a life saver! Never fear for your children's safety again! Just what was it that made her feel, well, unnerved about this whole business? She had always been the analytical one, the reasonable one. The one who was the last to jump on any band wagon, and yet here she was, chipped like everyone else. But who else, besides herself had that gnawing feeling that persisted daily? Perhaps one of the GF's did?

"Ladies, do you ever think about all this and feel that somehow, it is just not...what's the word I am looking for...well that it somehow just doesn't seem right? "

All heads turned toward GF #2.

"Now what on earth would make you think that?" said GF #4.

"Well, I for one can't think of any downside to what it makes up for in saving me time and allowing me peace of mind. I am not fearful of the terrorists anymore. No chip then they can track them. Wasn't that the original idea behind this? Just a bonus that it works so that we can reap the benefits of the other functions it can perform."

All murmured agreement. Never once, apparently, had one of them thought that they might have been victims of the hype from their government and certainly not when that hype solidly landed on the side of Homeland Security and personal safety. How very much everyone seemed to yearn for the cocoon of peace.

"But there truly is a downside to this," GF #2 continued. "Just exactly who is in charge of this program? A private corporation? One hired by the government to run or does the government itself handle it? You know they have a stake in this somehow, because it ties into Homeland Security, and maybe that is what bothers me the most. Is someone in the Pentagon getting his jollies off over my sex life?"

A short gasp rippled across the table and several pairs of eyes seemed to widen visibly. Was there really cause for alarm? None of them had stopped to think about any ramifications. Life was too good, especially when one could know the whereabouts of one's spouse at any given point in time. But then again, this was true for the spouse as well.

"Look", continued GF #2, "all I am trying to say is perhaps no one thought long enough or hard enough about this and where it might eventually lead. I know I didn't and I am usually one of the first to say 'wait a minute' when something new like this comes along. What are we giving up for what we are getting? Remember ladies, there is no free lunch."

Another murmur of agreement.

"But the part about the terrorists not being chipped and our being able to track them then is surely true isn't it?" one of the asked.

GF #2 continued. "Well, it sounds good in theory, and perhaps there is some merit to it, however, think back to when other things have been hijacked. Phony driver's licenses, counterfeit money. Who's to say that this is not as easily manipulated? I for one am not happy at the thought of my government knowing what book I took out of the library, let alone having them track my every movement of every day. Know when Steve and I have sex, know what the kids are doing for homework, misinterpret the fact that we have Muslim friends and vacation with them sometimes. Know that the four of us are lunching together and what each of us will order. I would like to know just exactly what it is they know, or feel they have a need to know."

Again, a mutual agreement murmur, as GF #2 said, "The worst part of this whole chip business is that we really know so little about it, and you can just forget about having it removed. If they are starting to chip newborns, we are all stuck with this little doo-daw for life."

Susan Goodwin

Related article:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1714256,00.html

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