Monday, February 25, 2019

The Robocalls are Coming

Eureka! I have a cause.
There is an issue that I hold near and dear. And I will support any candidate for any office who has the wisdom and vision to agree with me.
Now I know that a country without borders isn’t a country. After all, if there were no borders how would we know what country we were in? How would we know to whom we didn’t want to pay taxes? How would we know which language to mangle? These are important questions; but they’re not my questions.
And I know it would be a really radical move to endorse the Green New Deal before the glaciers melted, the tsunamis roared, and this thermostat was stuck at 112°F. but there’s still a bit of coal and oil ready to burn and it would be a shame if all that fuel, already extracted from the earth, were wasted. and what about the billions of livestock housed in factory farms. What a shame it would be if, after all they’ve gone through, their mission would be scrubbed, and they wouldn’t be allowed to make the ultimate sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.
And don’t worry. There are plenty more thoughts and prayers where those came from.
But my new cause — my lovely new cause —is a lot closer to home. It is located in my phone. “All politics is local” is one of my favorite political truisms. (The others come from George Plunkitt of Tammany Hall who both explained the differences between honest and dishonest graft, and declared, “I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em.”)
Let’s put Robocalls on permanent disconnect.  Those efficient, impersonal phone messages reduce recipients to the status of targets. My mama didn’t raise me to be an algorithm’s collateral damage. But here we are in the 21st century, and I get phone calls from people who don’t really exist — at least at the moment they’re calling me. Even though these nonexistent people don’t know me, they know all about my medical, credit, and other needs. I have one nice nonexistent young lady calling to tell me that my car’s warranty expired. I don’t have the heart to tell her that I don’t own a car. And of course I couldn’t really tell her because she doesn’t really exist. She’s just a chip off the old module .(Or is that a module off the old chip?) And, patsy that I am, I actually wonder if the robot would be offended if I hung up on it.
Then there are the political calls.
Every year, there are one or two seasons (depending upon whether or not there’s a primary) when my elected officials and their friends remember my phone number.
 “Hello,” begins the recorded message, “this is Senator so-and-so– –“
 “No it’s not,” I shout at — let’s face it — nobody in particular because there’s nobody at the other end. The most damage I can do is hurt a robot’s feelings. That day will come; but it’s not here yet (I think). And, of course, while I’m shouting, Senator so-and-so is still talking, passionately describing the virtues of the candidate I must vote for if I wish to protect the Republic. The esteemed public official whose disembodied voice is talking to me actually is delivering a second, separate, subliminal message.
 “Hello. I’m Senator  so and so. I’m much too busy and important  to actually take the time to talk to you. Therefore, I recorded a message that can be delivered to thousands of people without getting my hands dirty. I hope you feel flattered that we have your name and information on a list that we bought from somebody. After all, the computer system we are using cost some donors a lot of money. You should be honored that we are using it on you. See you on election day.”