Ever have that dream where you’re climbing a staircase with no end? Ever feel like you’ll never be satisfied no matter how far you’ve come? This dream journal entry takes the physics of that metaphor a little too literally. Listen as our hero tries to setup up camp on the slope of an incline. It’s metaphor my life at the moment.
Are you afraid of someone accessing your passwords? What if they got access to your person? The Heartbleed bug isn’t the most vulnerable part of your online identity, you are. Forget about someone hijacking your accounts. What if someone used your online profiles to replace you in the real world?
There’s more than one way to steal your identity.
If someone vague-booked on your behalf, would your friends know it wasn’t you? If someone took control of your tweets, would your followers realize you’ve been compromised? If someone commandeered your Instagram feed, would your friends notice a change in your point of view?
This story takes those questions to a whole new level. This is a preview of my work in progress, a millennial mystery, a social media thriller, a cautionary tale for those with a high connectivity clout score.
Ever have that dream where it’s your first day on the job and you have no idea what to do, where to go, or who to answer to? Ever have that dream where all your coworkers have an instinctual connection to the corporation, while your link has been severed? This dream journal entry takes place in one of these companies, where all titles are jargon, and everyone speaks Greek. Listen as the hero takes cover behind his cubicle.
Sometimes love comes from the place you least expect it, like surveillance equipment. What if the NSA agent building a profile on you wanted to get intimate too? Do you have a secret service secret admirer? Scan the Missed Connections on Craigslist and you might happen upon an entry like this.
A Missed Connection From Your NSA Agent
Twinkling brighter than any other star, you stood out in a wall of monitors. Your features made all the more striking in black and white. I remember the day the lid fell off your Chapstick. It smeared across your phone. It made your selfies look like vintage head shots of Lucille Ball. When you spoke, the crumbs in the microphone made your voice crackle like Lauren Bacall. Through the fiber optic lens embedded in your bathroom mirror, I could tell you had that it factor. Your presence lit up a room, especially when night vision was turned on.
Star struck, I tuned all of my surveillance in on your apartment. Putting you on my watch list, I had to have you to myself. The agency gets every station you could ever dream of, but you were the one I stayed on. When I saw your fingers moving down the guitar, singing David Bowie’s Big Brother, I knew my channel surfing days were over.
You were so cool, silk screening stencils of yourself with your chin up like a revolutionary. You were my kind of geek, reciting the tongue twisting monologue from V for Vendetta, down to the last V. You were mesmerizing, dancing the lambada solo, rubbing the air like a space for me.
You were my must see TV. My nights were spent watching a marathon of you, falling in love with your rebellious antics.
When you were so tired you put the coffee on without a filter, I provided the laugh track. When your supporting cast of cats entered, I provided the applause. When you talked to yourself, I tried to fill in the other half of the conversation. When you said your “Damn the man,” catchphrase I tried to say it in unison.
When you popped in a romantic comedy you were my favorite thing on TV. I loved watching your reactions, how you’d go through such a range of emotions. You went into each lovelorn speech rolling your eyes, but you always came out sobbing, hugging the pillow beside you. You recited lines like they were your thoughts at the time. As your sole audience for each performance, I couldn’t be more grateful.
You introduced me to my new favorite bands, kept me hip in the eyes of my friends. You taught me how to cook exotic new meals: potato pancakes, vegan chili, and avocado salad. You taught me which wines to pair with which vegetables. You broadened my palate. You impressed my dinner guests.
I took up crocheting, so we’d have something in common, but I struggled to keep up with your master level patterns.
Your workout regiment kicked my ass. I threw my back out mimicking yoga positions, but I stuck with it until I could feel my toes in my hands. You increased my flexibility with your full body origami. If only I could show you what you’d taught me.
I wanted to break the forth wall, to be a walk on role on your show, to see if I fit into the scenery. I wanted to patch into your speaker system, to make sure that no sneeze went unblessed. I wanted to do some undercover cosplay, to knock on your door and come inside. I was afraid my opening line would come across like a porno fantasy.
“I’m hear to fix the pizza. I mean, package the pipes. I mean, do you know how fast you were going? You’ll have to stay after class.”
Instead I surveilled from the shadows, a secret admirer with full access to your computer. I had my eagle eye on you. I’m the reason your laptop ran hot. You’d be surprised by how much random access memory was taken up by me. I’m the reason the battery in your cellphone never lasted. I put your location services to work. I’m the reason your alarm clock didn’t go off when it was supposed to. Maybe I thought you could use the rest, maybe I just liked watching you.
Commandeering your reminders app, I let you know when you were out of toilet paper. Intercepting envelopes, I crammed your mailbox full of gift cards for all of your favorite stores. While you were away for the holidays, I ordered covert cleaners to eliminate half your chores.
When you were pulled over for going over the limit, I issued the Amber Alert that got you out of it. When you parked on the wrong street during a snow emergency, I’m the one who switched the days for the entire city. When a jealous coworker made fun of your pink highlights, I made sure she got a pink slip that night.
I was your estranged luck, the director of your destiny, the authority behind your serendipity. I was the hand of fate, keeping you under my thumb. I was your guest login guardian angel, your wiretapping wooer, your backdoor lover with backdoor access. I didn’t want to leave anything up to chance. Fortune favored the controlled. Still, you had needs I couldn’t fulfill.
You know how you told your mother there was a curse on your love life? It seems like I might owe you an apology. I may have rendered your account invisible on OkCupid. I may have told your entire eHarmony inbox that you weren’t interested. I may have informed Match.com that you were dead.
I can tell you with good authority the guys creeping on your profiles had nothing on me. These were bearded bachelors who wore scarves indoors, loft dwellers with piss poor credit scores, and tallboy drinkers with student loans galore. If anything I was doing you a favor.
Too bad I couldn’t stop them from asking you out in person, from inquiring what you were reading, from getting bold at bar close, or biking beside you at a Critical Mass event. I took my jealousy to the DMV, modifying the database, hitting your dates with whiskey plates. I had their art cars repossessed. I revoked their motorcycle licenses. I listed their fixed gears as stollen, but still they came.
On date nights, I recalled every taxi to the garage. I shuffled bus routes, and closed bridges. Canceling your dinner reservations, I narrowed the scope of your plans. Shifting some money around in the Caymans, I bought out theaters to keep the two of you from going in.
When one of your suitors stayed the night, a team was ready to black bag him by morning. I have to admit, I was a little liberal with where I applied the taser to your boyfriends.
The real shock was to my heart. These bastards were beneath you. You could’ve landed a husband with a Masters of Science degree in Defense, good grooming habits, a great career, and an excellent 401k plan. You could’ve had so much more space to stretch, without having to relocate your coffee table. You could’ve had so much more space to cook, without having to put your cutting board on the couch.
There’s a two story house, in a nice neighborhood full of good schools. Its rooms are empty, despite some furniture covered in sheets. It sits there waiting for a family to come fill it with love.
After everything that happened, I couldn’t control my emotions, so I took control of your life instead. I put limits on your accounts to keep you from going out. I voiced your turn by turn navigation to keep you on the grid. I put you on a no fly list to keep you from slipping out of my jurisdiction.
You must have felt me watching.
Brushing your teeth in the bathroom mirror, you stopped abruptly, oblivious to the line of paste running down your sleeve. Pressing your finger to the glass, you discovered that tiny point where the light bent a little differently. You stared at the mirror, like you could see me. You looked at your smoke detector differently. You saw my all seeing eye in the ceiling fan. You froze in the middle of your apartment. You could hear my lenses focusing.
One day you left the office and never came back. Your car was found sitting in the lot, the windshield wiper bursting with flyers. Your bank accounts were cleaned out. Your social media profiles had been deleted. Your digital footprint had been scrubbed clean. The trail went cold. You’d gone underground.
What gave me away? Was it the U-Haul permanently stationed outside of your building?
Was it the Google Street View car following you to work? Was it my anonymous Valentines Day gift, the Teddy bear with the telephoto lenses where it’s eyes should’ve been?
I might have taken things too far. Not sure why I hacked your garage door clicker, I guess you just had a way of pushing my button. Not sure why I had to hijack your clock radio, if only to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. Not sure why I installed a remote control in your vibrator, if only to play a small role in getting you there.
Installing a full body scanner in your entry way was a bit much, I’ll be the first to admit it.
I broke protocol telling my mother about you. I showed my father a picture and he congratulated me on my good taste. They assumed we’d been together for sometime, based on my intimate knowledge of you. I told them that you’d taught me how to be a good listener, which is partially true.
Now you’re gone, vanished without a trace. I have undercover operatives embedded in communes, still no sightings. I have satellite cameras combing tropical islands, still haven’t spotted you working on your tan. I have an agency algorithm searching for your cyber shadow, still you haven’t logged in.
Next time you pass through a major city, could you please do something for me. Put your sunglasses away, take off your baseball cap for just a few seconds, and look straight into a security camera. I realize that all the facial recognition software in the world won’t bring you back to me. I just want to know that you’re okay.