Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Dear Smartphone, This is not a party line… January 11, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

android-smartphoneAPPARENTLY I HAVE much to learn about technology.

The other day while at Walmart, I pulled out my Android to view a photo in my album. No big deal.

But soon a message popped onto my screen suggesting I take a photo at this Big Box retailer. What? I stood there, mouth agape, trying to wrap my head around my smartphone’s knowledge of my location and activity.

A tad unsettled, I grew even more unnerved when a second message popped onto my screen while I shopped at Aldi. The unwelcome messenger suggested I take a photo at the grocery store.

By then, I wanted this intrusion to stop. I asked my husband if he’d ever had this happen. He had.

This personal tracking feels way too Big Brother-ish. Too snoopy. Too creeping into my personal space.

Can location history reveal that I perused the toy aisles and the bargain aisles and the…? Does Big Brother know I bought a bag of Hershey kisses, Brussels sprouts (yes, they really are good when roasted) and a whole cartfull of groceries?

Yeah, I probably don’t want those questions answered.

I remember the days when telephone eavesdropping by a party line neighbor proved worrisome. But that seems like nothing compared to today’s technological tracking.


© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


56 Responses to “Dear Smartphone, This is not a party line…”

  1. Wãshē Kōdä Says:

    I have a land line and block all mobile device calls. I have not talked to my 2 sisters for a couple years now unless they are visiting & using my brothers LL. My ‘junk’ calls has dropped from 30 calls a week to 1 or 2 a week !!!
    I used to get up to a half dozen junk call within an hour after calling or receiving a cell number. 😦 😦

  2. Sandra Says:

    It’s true and very unsettling. Another reason I don’t use a smart phone, besides cost of data plans, hardware updates, etc. I want my devices to detect the time zone I’m in….that’s IT!

    • I fought a cellphone for years. But, with kids living across the country, it’s just so much easier to communicate via texting or calls. I only acquired my smartphone several months ago, after my slider phone died.

      • Sandra Says:

        Daughter has me on a flip phone family plan for emergencies, which has come in very handy. No unlimited data plans in my future though. If all this was supposed to make our lives easier, why is making it work for us so much WORK and EXPENSIVE?!! You’re smart, you’ll figure it out. Love your blog.

      • Thank you for your “love your blog” endorsement. I appreciate your kind words and your comments.

        Good to hear you have that flip phone for emergencies. Yeah, the cost is a concern; thankfully on my daughter’s plan right now (for which I reimburse my/husband’s shares).

  3. Go into settings and turn location tracking OFF. That would be better. c

  4. My phone and TV are the same brand and every once in a while they sync up together and I really hope the fridge of the same brand does not decide to join in – weird! Every once in a while my camera will just come on before I even log into my phone. I have my phone password protected as well as my messages and content in hidden mode. I am sure that adds a little privacy, but I am sure that little device is sharing way more secrets than I am aware of – ha! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  5. I have an old flip up phone and even that’s too high tech for me. Lol

  6. treadlemusic Says:

    I do wrestle with the “Location” setting and often have it off, turning it on for individual apps such as Google Maps and only while using the app, then off it goes.

  7. Don Says:

    I used to like having the latest technology gadget! I had one of the first VCR players and paid $1,550.00 for it along with an additional $35.00 for a remote control which at that time was a separate box next to the machine, can you believe that! Seems like a long time ago and technology never stopped but kept on going. Now days I despise it. Who ever came up with the idea of having a glass box (iphone) that you placed in your pocket knowing that it eventually cracks? Humm….. I agree with you, the phone knows way too much of your personal life. I have turned off as much automatic systems as I can, no gps, no siri, no apps etc. I totally dislike such items. At my age I am a classic and prefer old school ways like road maps (remember when gas stations gave them out free) pay phones (a phone is something on the wall with a cord). I never have liked phones much, we have become a slave to them. Even when growing up if I was busy and didn’t feel like answering the ringing bell I just ignored it. Eventually my friend would show up at my door and ask if I heard him calling, yes I did but was busy at the time and I figured if it was important enough he would eventually show up at my door which he did! They soon learned not to call but come over. I never have been one that needs to be in constant communications, however that being said due to having kids/grandkids my thoughts on this subject have begun to change. And so it goes…………………………….

    Humm looking back at my response I sound kind of grumpy and perhaps need a cup of coffee, sorry!

    • I totally understand, except for the paying $1,550 for a VCR and drinking all that coffee. 🙂

      My position on cellphones shifted with the “kids” leaving and two in such far-flung locales as Boston and northeastern Wisconsin. If not for my cell, I wouldn’t be communicating nearly as much with them. Not to mention the call to my mom every Sunday evening.

  8. Dan Traun Says:

    It is a double-edged sword for sure. I can appreciate, at times, the location services and getting helpful info. Was that Google that was prompting you for photos? I participate in the Google local guide program. I am told that the photos I have uploaded have been viewed over 4.5 million times (at last notification). You can also submit reviews on just about any type of establishment. I refer to Google Maps all the time when planning travel, looking for a place to eat, etc. The photos people upload are very helpful. It is a brilliant crowd-sourced project by Google.

  9. Aaron Says:

    Yes, you can be tracked, your habits can be learned easily. Our devises also cummunicate with each other, they put off different sounds that are in higher frequencies that we can hear, so your phone recognizes what you are watching on T.V. Based on these sounds and your advertising online will match up with your general interest. It’s all very creepy.

  10. Beth Ann Says:

    It is part of the ever increasingly technical world that we live in. I agree with the suggestions to turn off the location services. Stores use that to gather data on you. Having children and “in laws to be” that work in the world of data analysis and marketing it is all part of how companies get data in an effort to enhance your shopping experience and be able to offer you items of interest. Honestly there are probably very few secrets anymore in our world. It is far too easy to access info on addresses, phone numbers, etc. but it is part of our world now. We just have to ensure that we are as savvy about things as possible and not share things that could compromise our safety. Case in point would be the non technical ploy of calling someone on their land line in an effort to get information out them that could help access a bank account. We all have to be alert to all the scams out there. I probably need to be more vigilant than I already am.

  11. Littlesundog Says:

    We are so much alike. 🙂 I turn my location setting off unless I’m using it for the gps.

  12. Almost Iowa Says:

    I am worried less about the tracking than I am about the poor judgement of the trackers. They are not stupid, nor are they tone-deaf… it is just that the incentives for marketing out weigh common sense.

    BTW, every time you pull your car into a Big Box Store, a license plate reader (LPR) tracks how long your car remains in the parking lot… It is how LPR’s were developed. The same goes with facial recognition software… the casinos developed that.

    I get a kick out of people who criticize the police for Big Brother technology, not that they don’t have a point – but that the cops get it last. 🙂

  13. Valerie Says:

    I wouldn’t like to get those messages either. I have a smartphone but do not get those kind of messages, but I guess that doesn’t mean I’m not being tracked. Uncomfortable to know, for sure.

  14. Jackie Says:

    I really don’t have any complaints about my iPhone. It did take me awhile to figure most things out, but I love it now. I was like you, not in a hurry but when my flip phone died, I just went for it. I especially love the GPS feature, I use it all the time. Always something new to learn I’m sure.

  15. Marilyn Says:

    I remember back in the days when the phone rang and everyone raced to try to answer it first. I was in the cast for my senior class play (the 11th and 12th grades always put on a play every year to raise funds for the class trip). The publicity photo in the local newspaper was a scene just as described – three of us with outstretched hands over a phone. Now I don’t have a cell phone and get few phone calls until I collapse for the day into my recliner (usually in the late afternoon) – then the phone starts ringing! I try to remember to have everything with me before I really relax: the mail, the paper, my water bottle, the TV remote, and the phone.

  16. We have the location tracking turned off on all devices. It can always be turned on for maps and then turned off again.

  17. Sheila Scorziello Says:

    I’m glad I don’t have a smartphone!!

  18. Sue Ready Says:

    impressive with 50 responses to your posting !! and all have given you great suggestions. Yes it is problematic when we know someone out there knows our location as we would rather fly under the radar. If I have followed you correctly your recent purchases have included new glasses, coffee pot, phone (though I may have missed something) I’m waiting now to see what new technology piece you invest in as I so enjoy your comments on your postings and looks like your readers do too with 50 weighing in..

    • I have to tell you, I’m surprised at the response to my smartphone and coffee postings. These are topics that touch nearly everyone, thus a lot of interest. I also have garnered a lot of new followers recently. So a big thank you to everyone, including you, who appreciates my Minnesota Prairie Roots writing and photography. I am grateful.

  19. I am thinking tracking led me to your blog, I have been interested in MN for awhile, I had just been on Amazon looking at a book about The Long Winter and if that year was really as bad as Laura Ingalls Wilder had written about.

    • Whatever led you to Minnesota Prairie Roots, I am happy to have you here as a reader and commenter. Welcome.

      Yes, winters get quite brutal on the prairie. I grew up only 20 miles from Walnut Grove, Laura’s Minnesota childhood home. Have you seen my winter photo posted today from my childhood? Winters back in the 1960s seemed snowier and more fierce than today.

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