Our parents didn’t just give lip service to the idea that we could be anything we wanted; they really believed it. What made them different from most other middle-class parents, was that the “anything” they believed we could be included “hunted criminal” right along with doctor/lawyer/president. I don’t know how many of you remember this, but there was a big push in the mid-eighties to get kids fingerprinted.
It was billed as a safety measure, a way to help track and retrieve children who’d been kidnapped. On the chosen day, a team of friendly officers (though not Officer Friendly) came to our school and all the kids lined up, curious and giggling, to get fingerprinted.
All, that is, except for MILK & Whiskey. Our mom, whom we thought feared kidnapping more than anything on this earth (with the exception of perverts), refused the sign the permission slip. You see, Mom and dad were hippies, part of the protest generation. They weren’t up-in-arms activists, but they would let up-in-arms activists crash on their couch to evade the FBI. This lent them unique insight into the importance of privacy.
Mom looked at her two precious munchkins and said, “one day – hopefully many years from now – one of you is probably going to be running from The Man, and I’m sure as hell not going to make it any easier for them to track you down before you get to Mexico.” This was the same line of reasoning that kept Whiskey from getting inked in high school. No identifying marks. Never, to me, was there greater proof of our mother’s unconditional love (or, it occurs to me now, just how low the bar had been set). Either way, she wasn’t just protecting the children we were, she was protecting the adults we might become. We’ve always had a good laugh about the fingerprinting incident, and the weird looks my mom got from the school administrators when she conscientiously objected, but now I get it. NSA surveillance, illegal wiretaps, Tom Cruise movies. My mom saw it all coming. We thought she was crazy because…well because of all the other crazy and because she was our mom…but she was onto something.
Nowadays, kids have their own hashtags before they have all their teeth. And the constant stream of photographic evidence! The profile pictures in my news stream (or whatever the hell it’s called this week) makes it look like I’m “friends” with an oddly snarky group of toddlers (plus 2 dogs and a half dozen flowers). We don’t even need surveilling. We’re laying the paper-trail ourselves. When The Madness starts committing random acts of civil disobedience (and no one at all is surprised), they’ll have no problem tracking her down.
Don’t get me wrong, I love sharing pictures of my adorable offspring, but I’m getting a little concerned that Google might at least own stock in them. I mean, what’s in all those forms I’ve blindly agreed to along the way? And why did the last fb update for my phone ask for access to my text messages?
I’ve gotten carried away here. My point is that just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not following you. Mom was right. That’s an important lesson, folks. You should get it tattooed somewhere.