Quiet Desperation

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In order to better serve my readers, please take the survey that follows this sentence.

How did I do? Would you recommend that sentence to a friend? If so, why? If not, why?

Will you read more of my sentences in the future? If so, why? If not, why not?

I contacted customer service and asked if the item was more green than blue or more blue than green.

“More blue than green.”

The next day I was asked to take a survey about the customer service I had received.

If I had answered all of the questions and made additional comments, it would have taken longer than the conversation I had with customer service.

When did all of these surveys begin? Some have been around for a while. But new ones are cropping up all the time.

By the time I come home from a dental appointment, there’s a survey waiting for me.

“How did we do? On a scale of one to 10, how much pain are you in?”

Does anyone read our responses? I doubt it. I think it’s just the illusion of feigned interest and concern, and an attempt to appear receptive to make improvements as recommended.

So far I haven’t tried to find out by answering with absurdities, but I’m forever tempted.

I flew to Michigan, rented a car, stayed in a hotel, attended a football game, and returned on a different airline.

I was asked to take surveys by two airlines, the car rental agency, the hotel, and the University of Michigan athletic department.

How did the University of Michigan know I attended the game? I ordered the tickets through StubHub.

Jennifer said, “Algorithm.”

A reader in Florida jumped on my column about the Second Amendment. How did a reader in Florida know I had written a column about the Second Amendment?

Jennifer said, “Algorithm.”

Apparently there is an application that alerts you whenever your name or a specific topic is mentioned on the internet.

I wrote about blueberries once. I heard from Miss Blueberry USA.

The other day I read something about “smart” televisions that didn’t really surprise me: “The Portland, Oregon, office of the FBI recently issued a warning that internet-connected televisions may pose a cybersecurity risk.”

The article stated, “Now we have `always-on’ devices with web cams and microphones that have the ability to record us and then send the information back to interested parties, without us ever knowing about it.”

George Orwell wrote “1984” in 1948 on the remote and almost unreachable Scottish island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides. (The book was published in 1949.)

If Orwell is listening, I’m sure he is smiling with self-satisfaction. The book even features a “Ministry of Truth,” which “oversees historical revisionism.” Sounds familiar.

The book’s main character is another Smith: Winston Smith.

An early title was “The Last Man in Europe,” but the publisher thought “1984” was a more commercial choice.

Big Brother is watching us, recording us and cataloging us all day — and night. My grocery store has in-your-face screens at the self-checkout area.

The clocks are striking 13: You may not know where your son or daughter is, but the internet does.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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