Booting up weekend column creation program, WY_21.02 …
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Initiating parent sequence, codename WKND_PKS_PRIV_draft.3, in 3, 2, 1 …
The most interesting bill of the Wyoming state legislative session, which I mentioned in a previous column, is Senate File 72, a proposed ban on employers (including the state) requiring their employees to receive microchip implants.
It’s all about preserving personal privacy.
Privacy seems more elusive than ever after a Chinese “weather balloon” took a joy ride across the United States before losing a lop-sided dogfight on the coast of South Carolina. It’s worth remembering, too, that at least three of these balloons flew over the country during Donald Trump’s presidency — so this isn’t some unprecedented occurrence.
But privacy is a thing of the past, if we ever had it in the first place.
There’s nothing new to add to that conversation.
A more interesting topic to entertain is reflecting on what level of privacy we’ve come to expect — and relinquish — not as Americans, not as Wyomingites, but as individuals.
Initiating theoretical simulation EX_1...
If, say, an extraterrestrial landed here in Cheyenne and I were to inform them, unprompted, that the good state they have just set foot in was likely to ban forced microchip implants, a level-headed extraterrestrial would respond, “Huh, an implant does seem like an infringement on one’s personal liberty.”
“By the way, where’s the nearest Automat? I could go for some food and cigarettes,” the extraterrestrial also might say, having spent the lonely spaceflight studying human pop culture, but only making it up to the American 1950s.
“You’re a bit late for that,” I’d say.
“Then why all the trains and cowboys? And what about this abandoned building? It sure does look like the ‘50s.”
Now, if this being — disappointed to learn that the closest thing to an Automat would be the Arby’s a couple blocks over — was particularly perceptive, they would also ask, “Could someone track you without a microchip?”
Well, technically, someone could locate the IP address of your smartphone, home computer, laptop and even your car, if it’s a new enough model. Also, if you’re social media savvy, many of those applications (TikTok) on your phone allow the app’s creator (China) to track and log your data.
That’s not even factoring in the catalog of everything you’ve ever said on those platforms, and the fact that anyone can Google your name and trace it back to something about you.
I have a personal dream of one day receding into the mountain range, where I live in a cabin with my dog, a family, and use the daily rising and falling of the sun as both a natural alarm clock and enthralling pastime.
Unfortunately, this is a pipe dream.
My name is on the internet, and I’ve even tweeted a couple times. Even if I didn’t have this regulation A9-34H71 Wyoming Tribune Eagle Cranial Receiver implanted in my brain, I figure I have enough online presence that I’ve forgone the luxury of true privacy for the rest of my life.
What would be unprecedented is a private entity, i.e. a business, tracking you via microchip.
The funny thing is, the proposed use for implants would be to readily have personal information available for employers to certify that you are who you say you are, and you’ve done what you said you’ve done. Criminal history, medical records, personal identity, Social Security — things that are already required of you to provide when entering employment.
Thanks to my harmless A9-34H71 Receiver, I don’t have to keep all of that information handy. Even my emotions and fleeting thoughts are logged into a database and analyzed for any divergent signals.
But, like the Patriot Act, sacrificing this privacy must have some sort of payoff that Americans can live with. For microchipping, the elephant in the room is also the primary safety precaution — GPS tracking.
Unfortunately, anyone with the authority to do so could identify your whereabouts as easily as the NSA could peek in at the last email or text you sent. The tradeoff? Missing or incapacitated people would always be locatable, and depending on what the microchip monitors, it could also be learned whether they were in need of medical treatment.
Initiating theoretical simulation EX_2 ...
I’m envisioning another scenario, one in which I’m taking a stroll with the extraterrestrial to the nearby Arby’s, where they share with me, “Everyone on planet [REDACTED] has a tracker, it’s how they found my little cousin when she got lost on that trail.”
“What if someone doesn’t want to be found?”
“Would you trust someone that doesn’t ‘want to be found’ without a good reason?”
“I feel like this a pretty heavy conversation to have in an Arby’s.”
Initiating events sequence ...
All the adults that, like the extraterrestrial, don’t mind making themselves known can stop by the Speed Friending event at the Laramie County Library tonight at 6. Or, if they’re more interested in learning about the local music scene, The Lincoln Theatre is hosting its monthly Open Jam Night at 7.
This time around, they’ll be selling their new signature beer, the Lincoln Lager, crafted by Gruner Brothers Brewing up in Casper.
Surprise — this is the weekend before Valentines Day. Little America Hotel & Resort is hosting a Valentines Day four-course dinner for $75 on Saturday. The Cheyenne Guitar Society also returns on Valentines Day with its 25th Annual Valentines Day Dinner and Concert.
Then there’s the meals that live closer to my heart.
On Saturday, the 14th Annual Chili Challenge is being held at the Event Center at Archer, while Black Tooth Brewing Co. will also host a Chili Cook-Off, with winners chosen by customers.
Or, eat something light, then stop by the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens at 7 p.m. on Tuesday to create a bouquet with your significant other.
On the performance side of things, the Sugar Hill Gang, noted for creating the world’s first hit rap song in 1979, will perform at The Lincoln Theatre on Friday at 8 p.m. True Troupe’s newest production, “Almost Maine” will also have performances on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m, this time at Little America Hotel & Resort.
It’s also Super Bowl Weekend, meaning that there will be watch parties across Cheyenne this Sunday. I speak for all journalists when I say please don’t do anything newsworthy when the Philadelphia Eagles face the Kansas City Chiefs at 4:30 p.m.
Seriously — if it’s going to land you on the front page, it can wait until Monday.
Weekend column sequence complete …
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Will Carpenter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Arts and Entertainment/Features Reporter. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 307-633-3135. Follow him on Twitter @will_carp_.