Never Alone: Getting 'off the grid' isn't easy to do
2009 09 08
By Leonard Pitts Jr. | McClatchy
Back in May, I flew to Los Angeles. My cellphone did not.
I left it in the car, a fact I only discovered as I was lining up at security.
Had I found myself standing there in my underdrawers, I don't think I'd have felt more naked. There was this panicky sense of isolation, this disconcerting feeling of being cut off. Whenever I confessed my plight, I got looks of stark pity like you'd give someone with a terminal disease.
It was a very long five days.
So I read with great interest an article in the September issue of Wired magazine. Gone by Evan Ratliff is about people who, for various reasons, tried to go off the grid, to disappear without a trace. Ratliff's piece suggests that, in a world where we are ever more interconnected, where your whereabouts can be traced by everything from the GPS in your cellphone to the magnetic stripe on your grocery card, to the camera mounted over the ATM, a world where you can be ratted out by your e-mail account, your favorite e-merchant, your social networking site, your subway card or the sticker on your car that lets you zip through the toll plaza, it has become nearly impossible to simply vanish.
To test the thesis, Wired has embarked on an inspired stunt. Ratliff himself disappeared on Aug. 15. He's trying to stay lost for 30 days. If some reader, using clues provided by Wired, can find him within that time, he or she wins $5,000. Me, I'm rooting for the writer, not the readers.
That's not just professional solidarity speaking. Rather, it's a desire to know that what he seeks to do can still be done, that, short of moving into a cave and living off the land, it is still possible to disconnect from the world.
Those of us of a certain age will remember how The Fugitive, Dr. Richard Kimble, would arrive in some town seeking menial work to sustain him in his search for the one-armed man. He'd adopt a fake name and live in safe, albeit paranoid, anonymity for weeks until some malicious snoop or suspicious sheriff happened upon his wanted poster. Even when he was arrested and fingerprinted, it would be long hours before he could be positively ID'd, giving him time to make his escape.
All of which feels as primitive as kerosene lamps. Kimble wouldn't last a week in 2009. If they can't find you these days, you're either a genius, a hermit or they aren't looking very hard.
The world is so much with us now, an intrusive presence anonymity cannot abide. Our predilections are catalogued, our travel monitored, our faces watched, our purchases logged.
In exchange for convenience, we lose the ability to simply pull the plug and be.
Worse, if my experience with the cell phone is any indication (I suspect it is) we have been re-socialized in such a way that pulling the plug and simply being has come to feel distinctly unnatural. Cellphones have been ubiquitous for . . . what? Ten years? We've been living online maybe five years more.
In an amazingly short time, then, technology has utterly rewired our sense of what it means to be in touch.
Or am I the only one who feels as if he's in a sensory deprivation tank when he's trapped somewhere without Net access? Am I the only one who finds it hard to remember the days when you'd follow a road just to see where it went and nobody knew where you were, nobody could reach you and that was fine?
I'd love to be able to tell you I spent those cell-less days rediscovering the joys of disconnection and that when I got it back, I found I no longer needed the thing quite as much. But that would be a lie. When I got it back, my hands fairly trembled in relief.
Obviously, I am a lost cause. So yes, I am rooting for the writer. Assuming — and hoping — he hasn't been busted by the time you read this, I leave him the same sage advice Jenny once gave Forrest.
Run, Evan, run!
Article from: McClatchyDC.com
The man who beat Big Brother Britain: Police told they can't keep pictures of arms trade activist
'Big Brother' DNA database plan will place innocent people under suspicion for 12 years
Big Brother row as police force starts using Google camera cars to fine wayward drivers
Pubs ordered to install Big Brother CCTV cameras - or risk losing licences
Big Brother police to get 'war-time' power to demand ID in the street - on pain of sending you to jail
Big Brother only wants to help you
This project is sponsored by George Orwell and his Big Brother
Bluetooth is watching: secret study gives Bath a flavour of Big Brother
Big Brother Is Watching as He's Never Watched Before
Petcam - Strange Kitty Surveillance
UK Government To Install Surveillance Cameras In Private Homes
Pointing the US Surveillance Apparatus at the American People
Park surveillance camera can zoom in and read what you’re reading
Confronting the Surveillance Society (Video)
David Icke's Media Conference In 'Big Brother' By-Election Update (Video)
'Sin Bins' For the Worst Families
Kent Daniel Bentkowski - 'Big Sister' Hillary Clinton
Latest News from our Front Page
Former Chief Security Officer for NewsCorp: N. Koreans Not Behind Sony Hack, Interview Leak
Hemanshu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor and former chief security officer for NewsCorp/Fox studios, says North Korea isn’t behind the Sony Hack.
Nigam gave several bullet points for why the hack was likely an inside job.
Attack code borrowed from a previous attack on Seoul, that’s why it’s in Korean. Private hackers typically borrow malicious code from other hackers.Nations state attacks follow ...
Sony Fires Back at Obama: Actually We Did Call the White House – Several Times
Sony fired back at Obama after the press conference saying they had several conversations with the Obama White House before and after the movie was canceled.
Via The Hollywood Reporter:
After President Obama criticized Sony for its decision to cancel The Interview's release after theater chains decided not to show the film, the studio has issued a statement elaborating on the move.
The Bankster International
Geopolitical analysis, the art of explaining power relationships through the prism of impersonal geography, can be a helpful tool for observers of the Great Game – but it also has its limitations. A case in point is the renewed US-Russia confrontation. Think tanks and policy insiders easily sell the narrative that from the dark days of the Cold War to ...
Another banker dies under suspicious circumstances
52-year-old Belgian Geert Tack – a private banker for ING who managed portfolios for wealthy individuals – was described as ‘impeccable’, ‘sporty’, ‘cared-for’, and ‘successful’ and so as Vermist reports, after disappearing a month ago, the appearance of his body off the coast of Ostend is surrounded by riddles…
Impeccable. Sporty. Cared for. Successful. Just some qualifications that are attributed to ...
NATO increases military presence on Russia’s borders
The Pentagon has confirmed the military buildup along Russia’s borders to ensure long-term “peace and stability” in the region.
Earlier Moscow accused NATO of a sharp increase in air activity and intelligence flights in the border zone.
Replying to RIA Novosti’s query on the increased number of NATO flights around Russia’s borders, a Pentagon representative told the news agency that the military ...
|More News » |