App Anxiety

Like almost everyone I know, I’ve become a cell phone junkie. That said, I hate to talk on the damn thing. I’ve considered stealing a voice mail message I heard once: “Hello. This is Kevin’s phone. If this could be a text, hang up and text me. if you absolutely must leave a message, I’ll listen to it… eventually… and maybe decide to reply. if it’s still relevant by then…” To paraphrase Gary Gulman, the phone is just a seldom used app on my phone and if you call me on it, I’m immediately mad. How dare you!?!

I use the camera on my phone… though not for the selfies that most people do. I generally am using it for work. I’m a big fan of Twitter. I’m currently managing 6 twitter accounts and I strive to change the voice of each. I use Instagram… and Facebook… but mainly because I think I need to for work. If I know it’s your Birthday, I’ll probably send you a text. I don’t do the smarmy, self-congratulatory Facebook wall posts. Facebook is way to saccharin for me. I prefer the sarcasm of Twitter and I’ve recently found Reddit which I like as well. Reddit can be REALLY harsh… And those people are darkly funny!

Despite my love of the technology and the wild west of Twitter and Reddit, I’ve always had concerns. All the stories of scams and phishing concern me. Some are overblown, but when you’re offered a “flashlight” app that requests access to your contacts… well, that just doesn’t seem right.

So when our government tells me that TikTok is full of spyware, I don’t have a lot of trouble believing that. They have banned it on all Federal government devices. Even Indiana has banned it on State devices. While I’ve watched more than a few TikTok videos sent to me by friends, I have no desire to add that app to my phone. Yes, I’m pretty boring, but I still value at least a little bit of my privacy. As attested above, I rarely give out my cell phone number because I don’t want calls on it, but I’m starting to get more and more calls on it and a lot of spam calls on it. Is that because people I know are downloading TicTok and “Flashlight” apps and giving access to their contacts? Is that how my number is getting out there?

Even with all the warnings, use doesn’t seem to be going down. TikTok remains the trendy thing. I am disappointed that institutions that should know better continue to push it. We attend the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball games and they do a TikTok challenge. Often they’re bringing little girls out to watch videos made by the players and asking them to emulate them. You know that those kids immediately want to have the app and be like the big girls they idolize… I was at a local town meeting and a young (20’s) participant said that Culver needs to expand their social media presence to include TikTok. She said that she was embarrassed to admit that she, like many in her generation, is on the app 2 or more hours a day. This is someone I consider smart and with her drive, she has a bright future. Is she at risk because she has things on TikTok that could come back to stymie a future political career or job opportunity? Not that there isn’t a risk of that with any social media, but we’ve been told that this TikTok is specifically harvesting information for a hostile foreign government. If reports are correct, Chinese children on the app are bombarded with STEM encouragement. American children are bombarded with mindless drivel and worse, things that are causing body dysmorphia and the resultant depression. That’s problematic.

I guess this isn’t too surprising when millions of Americans are sending off DNA samples to trace their ancestry, despite the accompanying sign-offs that say the company can do what they want with the DNA information provided. How much more personal can you get? At what point will that information be available to employers, insurance companies, divorce lawyers and others that may use it to harm us? At what point will it become common place enough that it’s required? Will the history questionnaire at the Doctor be replaced by a tube to spit into, at which point they’ll know anything they want about you and your ancestors?

As with anything, it is the camel’s nose under the tentAnd doesn’t that metaphor really shows this has gone on forever!?! Bad things would be stopped if they happened all at once, but work up to them bit by bit and most people will go along.

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