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My Brother Thought Patriot Mobile Would Protect His Data

He also thinks conspiracies make more sense than reality.

By Becky TroupPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
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Photo by SHVETS production: https://www.pexels.com/photo/uncertain-black-man-in-hoodie-in-studio-6974936/

“I told him if I saw him in the driveway, I’d shoot him on the spot.” My brother’s eyebrows raised, his face resolute.

“Over asking for some spare cans of food?” I asked, my eyebrows raised, unconvinced and skeptical.

He seemed puzzled by my disbelief and raised his voice, soaking his response with incredulity. “Sure! We put in years of work. I will absolutely pRoTecT mY CasTle by ANY MEANs NeCseSarY!”

With Civil War II on the horizon every day, my brother was proud of his hoard of food and supplies and ready to defend his home “Second Amendment-style.”

“You should get a gun, Becks. You’ll want to protect your family, too, when people start trying to steal from you.”

“Dude. You forget I was a Gunner’s Mate in the Navy. My job was to train people on weapon safety and how to shoot straight. Even our leadership could barely hit a stationary target. I have no hope whatsoever that you, or anyone else, shooting up trees in the backyard will do anything more than waste bullets and hurt yourself. Plus, you live in Bowdoinham, Maine with a population of 100. Nobody even knows you’re here. What kind of civil war would have people driving miles up a backroad in a town no one knows exists, expecting to find food? If that’s their plan, I wouldn’t call that a war, I’d call it a migration, ’cause they still won’t find you.”

My brother, wide-eyed at me, then quickly changed to his “I know best” attitude.

“Suit yourself. I just hope you guys survive out there,” punctuating the sentence with a huffy sigh. “Well, do you guys know much about phone carriers? We’re looking at Patriot Mobile. They don’t track your data.”

My husband perks up. “They’re not going to protect your data. Carriers have nothing to do with it.”

Again, my brother’s eyebrows shoot up. He’s a little uneasy, not sure what to say. If my husband wasn’t here, I could bet his canned tomato stash he’d have tried to school me on carriers and Big Brother. To my surprise, maybe from a bit of intimidation, he shifts gears.

“Really?” He looks back and forth to me and my husband. He looks like those times when Dad made him feel bad, and he would look to Mom for help. But he snaps out of it, “Well, I’d love to learn more about this. If I’m wrong, I want to know.”

Words I’ve never heard from him in over 40 years.

“You’re on Facebook and Google?” My husband asks. My brother nods.

“They’re the ones tracking you.”

“Exactly,” I said. “There’s a reason why you see ads for guns on your Facebook feed and I don’t.”

My brother’s face is a combination of computer processing and conspiracy-cult beliefs wrestling inside a tornado.

He finally speaks. “So, how do I protect my data?”

“You can’t,” My husband says. “Every time you use the apps on your phone, your data is collected and sold. Your phone even tracks where you are so it can recommend local ads to you on whichever app you open.”

Panic is taking over my brother’s face.

“Going forward, you can switch back to a call and text-only phone. But if you use a computer, it’s the same thing. Just being on a browser is putting your info out there.”

“Babes, are you hearing this?” My brother looks over to his wife.

“Oh, yah.” She replies.

A last-ditch effort to cling to hope and keep believing that something named Patriot is there to protect him. “But Patriot Mobile says it can protect my data.”

“It’s just marketing.” I feel a tiny bit bad because he looks so defeated, but not really. He’s almost 50 years old and should know better by now.

“Which you’re clearly susceptible to,” I said.

His face has gone from shock to shame to despair. “Huh. Well. I guess there’s no sense in changing our carrier.”

Awkward silence.

Suddenly, he perks up. “You guys want to go see the chickens?” We agree, just to help change the mood.

We head out through the kitchen to grab our jackets from the hall closet. I pull them out from the overstuffed space. I look at the shelf over my head.

“That’s a lot of ammunition, dude.”

“Yeah, but don’t say anything to anyone. I’m serious. Not even on Facebook. I don’t want the government knowing I have guns.”

*Original published in Medium*

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