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Just Because I'm Paranoid...

By Seana Sperling
July 1, 2001
People call me paranoid, but I have to quote the famous words of Jesus H. Christ, "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean that nobody's out to get me." In the new millennium there are countless things to make us feel paranoid. People go through our garbage to get bank account numbers and can easily purchase state of the art surveillance equipment from the back pages of "True Detective." The telephone company even announces its eavesdropping with, "This call may be monitored to insure..." Paranoia is becoming more a part of the norm.

You walk up to the counter of a Radio Shack and the clerk asks your name, address, phone etc. while typing all this information into a computer. If you refuse to impart this data, they act as if they won't sell you the damn coaxial cable that you need for your VCR. In these days of selling information to telemarketing firms, target-markets and stalkers, I don't feel like giving out my number to just any schmoe standing behind a counter.

When someone calls me on the phone and asks my name without identifying themselves, I always ask who it is. "Well, who's this?" Telemarketers will often employ the "first name," gambit to familiarize and ingratiate themselves with the prospective victim. I find this not only repellent, but a definite invasion of privacy. I think everyone should use aliases like: Judas Iscariot, Machiavelli or Bernadette Peters. In the age of information, things are easily accessed by the Internet. If you get someone's full name and their address, phone number, work number, etc. You can find a plethora of information.

Any time you apply for any type of credit, they want your Social Security Number. Now I'm sure most organizations are very careful with this information (Sure. Right.) Can all of the employees that handle the information be trusted not to sell it? It's got to be handy to have someone's Social Security number and their mother's maiden name. You can create a new identity for yourself. Set up credit accounts, checking, etc. and if you renege on your payments, there is someone else to take the fall. So, the next time you toss out your bank statement, leave your ATM receipt at the cash machine, or fill out an application for a store credit card--BE PARANOID.

At the bus stop I'm sometimes asked what book I'm reading. The fact that I'm reading should alert the inquisitor that I'm not really inclined to speak, but many do not understand the protocol. Oddly, most the people inquiring about my choice in literature are often completely inebriated and my olfactory senses usually alert me to their presence even when they're about half a block away. To the questions of these would-be bards, I generally respond with, "It's about how to murder and mutilate inquisitive people."