THE PRESIDENTIAL ALERT TESTER THINGY WAS CREEPY

I’m not sure why, exactly, this felt more invasive than an amber alert. I get amber alerts all the time (sadly,) often for missing children in towns miles from me, or highways I never drive on because I never drive. There’s a clear purpose to an amber alert, and they’re frequently a key element in apprehending perpetrators of crimes and saving children’s lives. It’s a small price to pay for a buzzing sound.

This feels different.

Leaving aside who the President currently is— as if that were possible, simply for the sake of our collective fatigue– I find this technology disconcerting. I’m not naïve enough to think this is some brand new, unheard of thing. It’s probably an application of long existing technology. I’m also not naïve enough to think this encompasses a “new” invasion of “privacy.”

It’s not.

Our smart phones, our personal home robots, our GPS, our public internet logins (HI CHERRY STREET COFFEE!!) are all designed to give advertisers as much information as possible about our buying, eating, walking, place-being, drinking, thinking, and talking habits.

But getting a “Presidential Alert” today just felt like one more bridge in a series of bridges too far.

Perhaps I’ll feel different if it’s used for it’s intended use. When it’s not fake. When I’m alerted ten seconds before the big one hits and I can stand in the doorway of my structurally unsound Pioneer Square apartment.

“Thanks Mr. or Mrs. President!” I’ll say, as the ground liquefies beneath me. “I sure am glad I wasn’t simply relying on state or local authorities to alert me, and that I had that extra ten seconds of mortal terror and existential regret before becoming part of Puget Sound’s ecosystem!!!”

But for now, the President assures me, no action needs to be taken. Thanks for that. I’m creeped out, annoyed and there’s nothing I can do.

 


Also published on Medium.