There is a cell of three teenagers living in my house. I am not positive, but I think this automatically qualifies them as domestic terrorists.
So I was wondering if you could spy on my kids for me.
Oh, I am not talking about the old-school cloak and dagger stuff, I was thinking more along the lines of hacking their email, monitoring text messages, tapping phone calls. You know, all that invasion of privacy stuff, which I understand you are very good at.
I am not looking for anything in particular; I just want to know how they are doing.
You see, I am on a need to know basis with my children, and they believe I need to know nothing. So far, they have been highly successful.
Where are you going? To a friend’s.
Does your friend have a name? Pat.
Who is Pat? A friend.
What are you and Pat going to do? Nothing.
How are you getting there? You.
They won’t even let me look over their homework anymore. Apparently I do not have clearance to review solutions to quadratic equations or analyze the works of William Shakespeare.
Which is fine because I don’t have the expertise either.
But the point is, as my kids write their own unique privacy policies, I am systematically being shut out of their lives.
And their associated behavior makes me nervous.
Their cell phones are password protected like they are hiding something. Their computers jump screens in my presence like they are hiding something. They text surreptitiously behind my back like they are hiding something.
Do you think they might be hiding something?
They are good kids. But as much as I don’t worry about them, I worry about them. Why do they put so much effort into pushing me away? What are they not telling me? Is there something I should know?
Is there something I shouldn’t know?
Or worse, is there something I shouldn’t know and don’t want to know even after I know it? Like all the stuff I did as a teenager?
As much as I am routinely excluded from their lives, I am not totally in the dark. For example, I know most of the plot lines to South Park and the lyrics to a dozen Taylor Swift songs. I am well versed in video games and mall hours. When called upon I can usually locate missing gym shoes. I even understand the fate of cell phones in the washing machine and what happens to pizza when left unattended in a bedroom for five days.
But there are important things that I feel I should know at this stage in their lives. Like their attitudes and influences and social behavior and what they do when I am not around to tell them not to do it.
I probably should know what time they really go to bed too. And what they eat when they are not at home. And when the cat was last fed.
And I would love to know who keeps leaving empty milk cartons in the refrigerator.
I would snoop myself to better understand what is going on in their lives, but I don’t believe in secretly rummaging through personal information. I would never read someone’s diary for example.
Unless, of course, it was printed in the press.
Besides, I know little about espionage. In the land of James Bond, I am Double-Oh-Nothing. And if I tried to follow the money it would always come back to me.
Which is why I am turning to the NSA, where I understand privacy concerns are a little more relaxed and you employ experienced computer spies who take pride in collecting and leaking useful information.
I was thinking that maybe you could just accidentally release a simple report or something. A top-secret encrypted dossier highlighting what my kids talk about and do in the absence of adults, and how they really feel about tattoos and a couple other silly things I worry about.
But I know that legally you have to get a court order to monitor the activities of US citizens. So maybe you could just tell me if there are things I don’t want to know.
Then, if I want to pursue it further I could contact China or the advertising department at Google or something.
Oh, one more thing. Do you NSA guys have a surveillance drone I could borrow?
I haven’t been allowed inside their bedrooms for a while, and I think there might be a lot of stuff amid the piles of dirty laundry that have gone missing. Like the TV remote and one of my credit cards.
I look forward to hearing from you. You have all my info.