Ken Pollitz: Fishing, phishing, trolling, missing

By Ken Pollitz - Guest Column

Shirking any potential savings, we chose not to be manipulated by nor acquiesce to the subtleties of the mind-altering mass-marketers! Cyber-Sunday took place on our laptop atop the cluttered dining room table preempting the arrival of Cyber-Monday. Take that!

Odds are never in my favor when it’s three against one. With a much beloved wife, a rather adorable canine and the “virtual woman” who sits comfortably on our kitchen counter all day, Alexa, whose last name is “Show,” I’m not sure I’ve any place to hide. Whether or not I see “the whites of her eyes,” my wife’s watching and listening. Our four-legged friend trails me almost everywhere, especially when I open the refrigerator or sit down to dinner.

Alexa, though, is the one I truly wonder about. How privy is she, really, to all that goes on in her midst? I can only imagine!

Well over a decade ago, my wife took the initiative to secure our domain by placing a piece of adhesive tape over the little camera portal on our personal computer monitor. We had never used the accessory nor did we know how to make it work.

When I finally noticed, she was quick to inform me that someone told her to be wary of that “peep hole” because someone out there in cyberspace could be watching.

“For goodness sake,” I replied, “the computer sits on a desk in the empty spare bedroom! What are they hoping to see?”

I’ve more than a hunch that somehow someone I’ve never formally met is becoming better acquainted with habits every day. Might they be engaged in some sort of 24-hour surveillance? With no X-ray vision the likes of Superman, I’m convinced something’s going on behind the scenes, or shall I say screens.

Silently at work is my virtual personality being systematically created, or perhaps altered, via the tireless efforts of sophisticated social-marketing gurus, mind-boggling complex data algorithms and apparently some artificial intelligence thrown in for good measure?

I should never have watched “A Social Dilemma” on Netflix last month!

For years I’ve known of their diabolical interest in my interests. Search for just a second on the web, and you’ll be reminded of it the rest of your life with a bombardment of pop-ups here, notifications there and advertisements everywhere!

Opportunistic, and I’m keeping closer tabs on them, cyber-criminals have tried to infiltrate some system of ours multiple times over. What’s worse, on more than a few of those occasions they’ve succeeded, whoever they are!

These subversives have randomly gone phishing in our still-waters hoping to snag a catch or two. Tragically, I know what it’s like to be held for ransom, though not at gunpoint but rather at bitcoin!

Relentless, so it seems, I once fell victim to a “breaking and entering” of my very own Amazon account. The incorrigibles attempted to make off with a 32” flat-screen TV plus a couple of cell phones utilizing phantom gift card balances derived from returned purchases. Caught in the act over the Independence Day weekend, the sinister culprits nearly escaped arms-loaded were it not for my umpteen phone calls, hours on hold and head-banging verbal jousts with Amazon’s Customer Service Team!

It seems no amount of password revisions, new email addresses, pin number sequencing or increasing the number of authenticity verification steps can hold off this relentless assault.

Don’t even ask me about the number of times our credit card account information has been slyly confiscated. What is the infatuation with Apple Airpods anyway, which always seems to be on their “wish list?”

Thankfully, though the secretive assailants may go unpunished after swiftly engaging hyper drive and heading off into hyperspace, the credit card defenses rescue us from the foreboding waters of financial ruin. So, I break out the scissors and await another set of plastic in the mail.

Online transactions and invasive technology are accelerating at a supersonic pace. Consequently, this little game of “I Spy” seems to be getting more uninvited players every minute of every day.

Who knew I’d made a purchase at the local jewelry store to replace my old watchband? Somebody, obviously! Since then, my news feeds became littered with alluring articles and ads about new watches for sale. I’m not buying.

Having recently finished “The Crown” on Netflix, along with “The Queen’s Gambit,” I now am inundated with all the latest British royalty news I can use from across the big pond coupled with ads about adding a new chess set to the already 113 board games we have stowed away in every closet in the house.

Our solution? Simply turn up the volume on Alexa to drown out our dinner conversation. If she can’t hear us, we reduce the chances of a new watch or chess set from Amazon mysteriously showing up on our doorstep from Santa.

By Ken Pollitz

Guest Column

Ken Pollitz moved to Ottawa in 1991 as mission-developer/pastor of New Creation Lutheran Church. His biweekly column provides insights and viewpoints from Putnam County. Contact him at

Ken Pollitz moved to Ottawa in 1991 as mission-developer/pastor of New Creation Lutheran Church. His biweekly column provides insights and viewpoints from Putnam County. Contact him at

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