My Cat Sent an E-Mail

I want the real life
I want to live the real life–“The Real Life,” John Mellencamp

Parody of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks

Parody of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks

I love the internet.

An online book group I belonged to once gathered at The Southern Festival of Books.

I have done e-mail interviews.

I have written fan e-mails to favorite writers (though I think they would prefer real fan letters).

I have read blogs and international newspapers.

I have read approximately 40 books by Trollope as a longtime member of Ellen Moody’s Trollope19thCStudies at Yahoo Groups.

On the other hand, my family believes I should get offline because of the National Security Agency electronic surveillance program.

It is devastating to learn that this seven-year-old NSA surveillance program of metadata from cell phones and e-mail flourishes under Obama. According to Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker (June 24, 2013), the information has not yet been used to abridge “any citizen’s freedom of speech, expression, or association,” as far as anyone knows.  But he adds,

The harm is civic.  The harm is collective.  The harm is to the architecture of trust and accountability that supports an open society and a democratic polity.  The harm is to the reputation, and, perhaps the reality of the United States as such a society, such a polity.

This is not why we voted for Obama.

The NSA surveillance may not affect us much so far, but what if a future government starts a Fahrenheit 451-style purge based on misinterpretations of the data (in Ray Bradbury’s book and Truffaut’s movie, the government favors book burnings and reports of subversion among readers and thinkers)?

There has been a kind of flatness about Obama’s presidency  It is not that he hasn’t done good:  no one else could have passed a Health Reform bill (people have tried), he got the troops out of Iraq, recognized climate change, and has supported gay marriage.

Still, there has been that shiftiness about Guantanamo.  We would have liked to see the Patriot Act revoked.

One can’t help but think the NSA agents and government subcontractors have us exactly where they want us on the internet.  Everything we do is here forever.

Most of us are boring.  I don’t have a cell phone.  My e-mail is hardly incendiary.  Three of the more riveting emails I’ve written lately?  “Have you seen Argo?”  “No, it’s not too bad out,”  and “My book hasn’t arrived.”

At my blog the “surveill-ors” can read about bicycling and novels.  Most disturbing is the fact that they will think I am a really bad writer.  If I’d only known, I would have written more carefully.  I’M JOKING!

E-mail is not the greatest invention.  I prefer to write real letters, though I seldom do it anymore.  In Nora Ephron’s book, I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections, she  wrote a funny list, “Things I Won’t Miss.” Third on the list was e-mail.

E-mail can get you into trouble.  Once I sent a personal e-mail to an entire group by mistake.  Worse, my cat once sent the rough draft of an email to my boss by jumping on the keys.  That did not end well.

And yet I love the internet.  I will continue blogging.

2 thoughts on “My Cat Sent an E-Mail

  1. I love the Internet too, Kat, and intend to go on blogging. It has always been true that anything you look at or say is known and recorded, but can they really pursue everyone who ever said anything disputable or disloyal? I recently blogged that Zola said the French military was incompetent. Can that be twisted to mean that I think all military or — heavens to Betsey! — our military is incompetent? Maybe I do think that and I have the right to think so. Let them bring this old lady into court.

    It’s not so much that they can screen all those terazillions of data bits for the bad apple. It’s more that, having decided someone is or might be a bad apple, they can go looking for supporting evidence. It will always be out there. We are all guilty of something.

  2. Yes, the McCarthy era…

    The deliberate targeting is what we all fear.

    Wasn’t Monica Lewinsky called on the carpet for reading Nicholson Baker?

    The internet is our way of life now.

    There are scholars online. There are earnest readers like myself. There are good writers and not so good writers.

    But they don’t need all this data: it is ridiculous.

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