I got a new phone this weekend. It’s a Blackberry something. I realized what little bit of a crap I gave about the model number the moment I walked into the cell phone store to get my contacts changed from the old phone to my plastic piece of fruit and the store rep asked.

The damn thing does more stuff than conceivable. Had a long car ride today and discovered that just by hooking the hands free headset up I can have a companion – or at least something to listen to me – whenever I want. We had a great talk, me and my Blackberry. I asked it how the weather was, where the nearest fast food joint lied and it set me up a few phone calls. Great times, really.

Then I found out it had a Global Positioning System. Which is fine, because there’s nothing that makes me feel more comfortable than knowing people can find me whenever they want, assuming I’m carrying my newest friend. The lust for such knowledge by government agent men makes me not entirely convinced this option is disabled when I tell it to be.

Hell, my Tom Tom has a way of telling where all the other Tom Tom users are on the road at all times, assuming they give me permission. I’m sure someone’s got hold of this information regardless. Sounds like it’s as simple as hitting a switch.

Back to the damn phone. It’s a wonder how much information it can hold. Think about it: You load the thing down with a complete list of contacts, fill the calendar up with your appointments (this is very easy if you use Microsoft Outlook, which I do) and arrange for it to read your e-mail and there’s really little people wouldn’t know about you if they had access to your phone.

Making it even more convenient for “you” is the option to upload this information to some cyberspace server. Trust us, say the secret agent men, we won’t peek.

I’d like to say I’m just being aware of this possibility. Not guaranteeing it’s happening. I offer no proof of this. Hell, I wouldn’t even say I’m paranoid.

Fact is, I have nothing to hide. But the thought of someone knowing what I’m up to all the time is the very reason I’ve never made a real push to get married. And at least in that case, I’d know the person who knew what I was up to. It becomes even more irritating when I think masked cyber dorks are on to me.

Of course, we do these things willingly, myself included. I was aware of these possibilities when I accepted the technology, yet the glory of always having access to my work e-mail swayed me to respond accordingly. Same can be said of the Tom Tom. I’m always getting lost; Getting the thing has pretty much ended this problem.

I believe this ideology represents where America is heading. The hand holding the candy out to us could be a child molester, yet we don’t care – we just want the sweat treat. There’s never been any real push to stop Wal-Mart, for instance, even though it’s taken down small city after small city, making them all look exactly the same. But we can get our stuff faster, cheaper and look at all the low-level jobs it adds in the process of wiping out far less in which people actually take pride in their work.

I know I’m not being fair to the Wal-Mart employees who take pride in their work (they do exist), but they’re outnumbered severely by those who don’t.

You can say the same thing about other chain places taking over our cityscapes. I used to think Carrabas (not going to bother looking up the spelling) and Moe’s Southwest Grill, to name just a couple, were specific to Wilmington, N.C., before I moved to several other places throughout the Carolinas and realized they were evolving into a cancer of Lowe’s or Home Depot-like proportions.

They’ve got the right, too. Give it up to the shrewd businessmen who got these projects rolling. But now every other city in North Carolina looks like, well, every other city in North Carolina. Coming next, sooner or later, I’m sure, is South Carolina.

Ah well. At least when the ultimate plan is in full force, the government will be able to know which Wal-Mart or Moe’s we’re using at all times, who’s e-mailing us and what we’ve got planned for the rest of the day.

It’s progress, baby.

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