NSA Pickup Lines

NPR's All Things Considered mocks NSA for using their considerable listening and tracking apparatus to spy on love interests. This practice has spawned some NSA pickup lines on Twitter. Some choice ones:

  • Do you believe in love at first sight, or should we switch on your webcam again?
  • Girl, you must have fallen from heaven because there is no tracking data to indicate how you arrived at this location.
  • I know exactly where you have been all my life.
  • Roses are red, violets are blue, your pin number is 6852.
Surveillance cameras


It's clear that the public finds NSA's practices to be creepy. And from a PR perspective, "creepy" is absolutely the worst adjective to try to fight. Even pure evil, like detaining people indefinitely in concentration camps, torturing prisoners and making naked human pyramids, is easier to contain for a PR engine -- it's just a matter of depersonalizing the "Others."

As an aside, this notion of the "Other," the enemy, the evil, was once predominant in French literature. We had a resurgence of the same concepts here in the US recently as the US was occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. Just as an example, the TV series Lost spent countless hours demonizing a set of people with strange, unknowable customs, with values completely opposed to our own, with concerns and motivations completely unlike us and indecipherable by us. And once there is a ready-made concept of the "Other", the "less than humans," then all sorts of evil activities can be justified, because after all, who knows what those people will want to do next. You can shoot them first before they draw, waste them before they waste your time explaining why they are innocent and you can even kill their kids before they grow up to be Others.

But these rhetorical tricks do not work to justify "creepy" activities targeted at us. Once soccer dads and moms decide that they don't want their children's activities tracked by creepy men or their spouses harassed by creepy ex'es, the PR battle has been lost. It'll be fun watching the intelligence community try to come up with creative narratives to justify their practices.

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