Paranoia is Nothing New
Over fifty years ago my grandmother worked in a dry goods store as a sales clerk at a store called Mulholland's in Birmingham, Michigan. Birmingham even then was an upscale suburb of Detroit. Well, it was not really suburb at that time, but one of the nearby towns where well-t0-do folk escaped the city. As the city grew, it became another suburb. My grandmother went to work there after my grandfather died and she had to go back to sell the house at the lake and go back to work. I'm not sure if it was because of necessity or out of boredom, but it was a job I think she liked in either case.
Selling yard goods and sewing materials and the like, my grandmother encountered a wide assortment of folk, mostly women in those days, who shopped there. Mulholland's was a "mom and pop" sort of place where the staff really got to know there customers. My grandmother, being a natural born storyteller, collected stories that she would tell at family gatherings.
One such tale was of the rich widow who lived alone in a big old house near the center of town. One day, as my grandmother told the story, the lady came into the store and asked for the heaviest material they had.
"Right over here," my grandmother said. "This is muslin, pretty heavy duty. What do you need it for?"
The lady felt the material and held it up to the light, then toward the front window. "This'll do."
Still curious, my grandmother asked, "Are you making something special?"
"Oh, yes and no," she said in a hushed tone. "My son bought me television set. I didn't want one. The radio is just fine, but he insisted."
"Well, that was nice. I'm sure you'll enjoy...."
The woman cut my grandmother off. "No! I'm sure they're watching me. I need this to cover it. I need to make sure they aren't spying on me."
My grandmother stifled her surprise, amusement, all the mixed emotions that came up with this encounter with outlandish paranoia. She measured out the muslin, folded it up, and charged her out without further conversation. Handing it to the lady, my grandmother thanked her and wished her a good day. The lady sighed with satisfaction and left.
For some reason I thought about this story in light of recent items in the news about listening devices and appliances potentially being able to spy on us...like TV's and microwaves...anything with internet connectivity, you know. Likely it is somewhat true. I have an Amazon Echo. Alexa waits for my requests. I kind of wonder what she does the rest of the time. If my life were more interesting, I suppose I would be heading to a store like Mulholland's to get some heavy sort of material.
Funny how after fifty years more or less, nothing much has changed, just the nature of our devices.