The NSA wants my cell phone data? Meh. Most of it is on Facebook anyway!

So this whole “the government is going all Big Brother on us” thing is everywhere right now, and I’ve come to an important conclusion about it all.

I don’t really care.

Like I know that, as an American, I should care that my Fourth Amendment rights are potentially being violated. But honestly, I had to Google what the Fourth Amendment even was. And considering that we’re talking about an amendment written so far before the existence of cell phones that it was fifteen whole amendments before women were allowed to vote, I’m not sure that it’s actually being violated here.

In talking to a lot of my friends, I found many of them (except for the extreme righties, who are still protesting the amendment that gave my kind and people of other races the right to vote and who claim creationism is the only thing that should be taught in schools) don’t care either.


But Sara, you freaked out over all of Bush’s Homeland Security stuff! You’re such a hypocrite! You’re only saying this stuff is okay because you support Obama.

Well, you’re right and you’re wrong.

I DO support Obama. I’m the freaking poster child for supporting Obama. I own a sparkly Obama tank top.

And wore said tank top on stage with Bruce Springsteen. Because that’s how I roll.

But there are several key factors that I feel aren’t being addressed here.

For starters, I’ll admit, when the idea of Homeland Security stuff was first introduced, it sounded scary. It felt like the Harold and Kumar 2 version, where the dumbest possible people were going to look for the worst in everyone and we’d all end up with Big Bob in Guantanamo if we even said the word “bomb” within thirty miles of an airport.

Want to know how much my daily life has changed since then?

Not a whole lot. Is it annoying that I have to check my luggage to go anywhere because I’m incapable of packing my toiletries in small enough containers to carry on? Yes. But I don’t travel that often. And if we’re being entirely honest, that is the full extent to which the NSA has overall interfered with the quality of my life.

So with that said, if the government has already been monitoring my phone records without my knowledge and it hasn’t been a problem, I’m fine with them continuing to do so. If they start sending the SWAT team in every time I text my best friend that I’m going to kill my mother (which I would NEVER say, mom, honest! Please don’t hurt me!) then okay, I feel my Fourth Amendment rights are being violated.

But, at least as far as we’re being told, they’re only monitoring who people are contacting, not the content of phone calls or text messages. So the government now knows that my dad calls me every three minutes for approximately nine seconds, that my best friends and I text a lot, and that my mother calls me every single afternoon at the very second that she leaves work/as soon as I start working out. Oooooooh. Seriously important stuff here people!

The truth is though that for law-abiding citizens, cell phone records aren’t exactly super incriminating. Sure, you don’t want your significant other getting ahold of them if you’re cheating. But the government doesn’t care if you cheat. The media does, if you’re famous, but the government practically condones cheating.Hell, so many people in the government itself cheat that they’d probably cover for you, if that’s what you’re worried about!

It’s also worth noting that anyone who thinks they have any privacy, yet uses a smart phone/has a Facebook or other social media account/uses a cell phone at all for that matter, is an idiot. Even if you DON’T walk around in public having excessively loud cell phone conversations about extremely personal matters (which most of us do), it’s super easy for people to hack cell phones. Not me, because A) I don’t have those skills and B) I don’t care, but people who DO care can hear your conversations if they want to regardless of who they are/if they work for the government. And if you’re updating your Facebook with what you ate for dinner every night, you’re broadcasting your every move to the world anyway. Why do you really care if the government knows WHO you’re talking to when you’re putting all that info out there on your own?

And to be totally honest again, even if the government actually WANTS to listen to my conversations and read my text messages, it would be a HUGE waste of their time, but I don’t care that much.

Want to know what they would learn?

Here’s the conversation that my mother and I have every day.

(Phone rings) Me (without even looking at the caller ID): Hi mom.

My mom: (Depressed Eyore voice) Hi Sara.

Me: What’s up?

My mom: Ugh, I’m just leaving work. (Pause) Are you at the gym?

Me: Yup.

My mom: I should go to the gym. But I had such a long day. Blah blah work blah blah feel fat blah blah work blah blah your father blah blah work blah blah blah you’re a horrible person and fail at life blah blah.

Me: I actually had something interesting happen today. I—

My mom: I’m pulling into the garage, gotta go, bye!

Me: Sigh.

EVERY SINGLE DAY. I pity the government agent whose job it is to listen to that EVERY DAY. Really. I do. But if they want to, cool. Good for them.

And if they want to read my text messages, they’ll see a lot of conversations with Ary about the zombie apocalypse (don’t ask), a lot of emoji combinations that are code for “I’m going to jump off a building” and “I super lesbian love you” between me and Darya, messages telling the boyfriend that I’m heading to the gym and asking what he wants for dinner, and ten billion pictures of Rosie. And a bunch of pictures of Rosie pooping, which I send to the boyfriend. Yes, I’m a weirdo. But he laughs every time I send those, so it’s really okay. And he even makes up little songs about her pooping. We really are the perfect couple.

But I’m getting off track. If the government wants to see all that, then yes, they too can see pictures of my dog defecating. In fact, I’m happy to send those pictures to them if they want (I even have a few politicians topping my list of people whom I’d like to send pictures of Rosie pooping to! John Boehner, be ready!) Now if they start coming after me to see if I scoop the poop based on those pictures, I’ll start yelling about my Fourth Amendment rights, but until then, I’m cool.

Yes, I would be much more freaked if we were still in the Bush years. NOT because I’m a diehard Democrat (see pictures above) and being a hypocrite, but because I trust the Obama administration to not misinterpret what they see in my messages. I’m half convinced that the Bush administration went into Iraq over a text acronym that someone intended to mean, “Where’s My Dinner?” or something along those lines. With Obama, at least I’m not worried that an army of NSA SWAT guerrillas will come swinging in through my windows screaming about “Weapons of Terrorist Functions” if I text my best friend and ask her WTF she’s talking about when she starts saying where we should hide when the zombies come for us.

Although, maybe the government SHOULD be reading our conversations. I’d rather be safe than sorry when the zombies DO rise up. Which, according to Ary, is happening any day now.

Which actually concerns me more than Verizon’s cooperation with the government.

The end is near: my grandma is on "the Book of Face"

The apocalypse is upon us.

No, I’m not talking about global warming, natural disasters, or House being canceled (God forbid).

My grandmother is on Facebook.

Granted, she calls it “the Book of Face” and expects people to know what she’s talking about. But she has a profile. I should know. I had to set it up for her.

My grandmother and technology are not friends. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’re arch enemies. Like if technology is Batman, my grandmother is the Joker. If it’s Superman, she’s Lex Luther. If technology is me, she’s spiders. You get the idea.

Maybe that’s a little harsh. It’s not that she TRIES to foil technology. She does it unwittingly. On a daily basis.

For example, when I was in college, she got her first computer and decided that she wanted Instant Messenger. Of course, she probably thought this was related to Instant Coffee in some way (my grandmother is the Queen of Malapropisms. She’s been known to take the “HIV Lane” when she’s got someone else in the car with her, and she may believe that the SATs are what you get when you have unprotected sex), but she’d heard of it, so she wanted it even though she didn’t have any idea what it was. And I, thinking, “cool, this’ll be a great way to keep in touch with her while I’m at college,” obliged.

Fail on my part.

Maybe the problem was that I didn’t explain the concept well enough. Because every time she sent me an IM, it was about six pages long, and she signed it, “Love ME (Grandma)” at the end. Every time. Which annoyed the crap out of me, because people who say “it’s me” on the phone or sign things that way irritate me to an inordinate degree (because if you don’t know who it is, that doesn’t help, and if you DO know who it is, it’s unnecessary), but in an IM? It says who it is at the top of the screen! Then she was SHOCKED when I would reply, because she’d JUST sent her message to me and she didn’t understand how I knew she had just sent it.

Unfortunately, Instant Messenger stopped working on her computer one day. (When I deleted the application. Oops.) And I just couldn’t seem to get it working again. What a shame.

But that didn’t stop Grandma from using email and other forms of technology as they became available.

Which led to the password problem. I tend to use variations of the same three passwords for most of my accounts. Smart? Maybe not. But I seldom have trouble remembering what my password is. My grandmother, on the other hand, has a different password for every single thing on the internet. And in theory, she writes them down. But, in a world with HIV Lanes on 270, passwords sometimes go missing. And then I have to walk her through the steps of password retrieval. Over the phone. Not good.

(Although trying to get her to remember her password has one upside: it causes lots of profanity. Which I find absolutely hilarious. There’s nothing funnier than when my grandma drops an F-bomb. It’s like when Betty White does it. Seriously. If I put a video of her trying to figure out her passwords on YouTube, she’d be famous within an hour. Then she would murder me. But it might be worth it.)

So when I finally figured out what she meant when she told me that she wanted to get the Book of Face, I decided it would just be easier if I set it up for her. Being the good granddaughter that I am (although I suppose if I was THAT good, I wouldn’t be blogging about this experience. Please don’t cut me out of the will, Grandma! I love you!), I went over there to help her.

Name: no problem. Education: no problem. Interests: no problem. Picture: problem.

I had several pictures on my page that had her in them, and I suggested that we crop one of those to use as her profile picture.

“But I look so OLD in those pictures,” she complained.

“You ARE old,” I thought, but tried not to say. I didn’t quite succeed. But to appease her, I did try to find a picture where she looked LESS old to use. All of them were denied.

Finally, joking, I pulled up a picture of her and my grandfather from right before they got married.

“Perfect,” she said. “Can we take your grandfather out of the picture though?”

“Um, Grandma? This picture was taken 63 years ago.”

“I know, that’s why it’s perfect. I want my old boyfriends to be able to find me.”

(While this conversation is going on, mind you, my grandfather was downstairs sleeping in his easy chair.)

In my head, I tried to explain the ridiculousness of this to her. Her old boyfriends are probably dead. If they aren’t, they probably aren’t on the Book of Face. AND HER HUSBAND IS DOWNSTAIRS. But I looked at my grandmother and realized that none of these arguments would get me anywhere. So I sighed and cropped my grandfather out of the picture.

So in her facebook picture, my grandmother is nearly ten years younger than I am now.

See what I mean? The apocalypse is coming.

But I should really stop making fun of her lack of internet skills. Not because it’s mean, but because I recently sat down with my best friend to try to learn about using Twitter. And I thought she was talking about drugs when she started explaining hashtags.

Like grandmother like granddaughter, I guess.