I began my 2018 waking up to the New Year’s Day marathon of The Simpsons on FXX I’d turned on the night before and had fallen asleep watching. I stayed in bed for a while and watched some more, not wanting to get out of bed because, don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s a bit extremely cold here in the mid-Atlantic states this week.
Then during one commercial break I saw it. A rather extended ad for a product (not saying the name) for tracking someone, ostensibly a family member. This way, you’d know exactly where this person is at all times, whether they are driving too fast, etc. You know, perfect for the psycho stalker on your belated or Orthodox Christmas list.
Oh, did I mention this product was specifically geared toward parents to use on their teens? Yeah, that’s supposed to make this any better somehow. I mean, even if that did, it’s worth remembering any spying technology doesn’t actually know the relationship of the user to the person being tracked. A man could be using this on his wife rather than his teenage daughter. Think about that. What healthy reason could he possibly have for tracking his wife’s whereabouts, knowing how fast she drives, and who she sees? Doesn’t that seem gross as hell? Don’t you kind of wonder that this wife should probably get away from him?
So for that matter, what healthy reason could a parent possibly have for tracking a teen’s whereabouts, knowing how fast she drives, and who she sees? What, the parent cares and wants to make sure she’s safe? Okay, but maybe that husband just cares about his wife and wants to make sure his wife is safe. Oh, wait, that doesn’t fly.
I would go further with this analogy, perhaps going into how we don’t want the government or Google spying on us like this (even though they probably are, every time we say “okay Google…” perhaps) so that we shouldn’t be normalizing it for the next generation, but the sad thing is, youth rights aspect of this aside, you find people are often not all that bothered by it. Some people may look at the husband spying on his wife example and not find anything wrong with it. Perhaps calling up the property argument, where the car and house and phone and whatnot are property that one has every right to keep track of and otherwise do as they wish with. Of course, what they also aren’t shy about saying, they see the teen as property as well.
So what I must wonder is the mentality of the person who clings to this right and would actually seek out and actively use spying technology on a teen (or anyone else). I mean, this is rather obsessive and time-consuming behavior that, well, even someone so inclined might lose interest after a while. After all, they have something better or at least more interesting to be doing. A show or a game is coming on. Got to go make dinner. Got to go to bed and get up for work. I mean, being like “okay, she’s at school… okay, now she’s visiting a friend… still visiting the friend… on her way back here…” is boring as hell.
Unless, of course, you’re just that obsessive. Or you’re looking for something specific. Such that simply talking to the teen about any concerns is apparently out of the question.
The ad indicated the product would prevent kidnapping (they literally used staged footage of a girl being pulled into a windowless white van), so that this would keep kids safe. Well, I’ve gritted my teeth through enough conversations with coworkers and others over the years to gather that safety is barely on anyone’s radar with the idea of keeping track of kids. Some have said straight up they’d catch them lying about where they are and would punish them, with no effort to hide their glee. Safety is the stated concern, but, let’s be honest, the whole idea is, here, assert your dominance over someone in your household who drives you nuts because you can!
And even without anyone purchasing the product or any of the far too many like it that have been around for some time, the ad does its own damage. It tells the parents and teens and others watching alike that this is normal, that this is how it should be. It reinforces the already far too reinforced message that teens are property that can and will cause major trouble at any moment and that it’s the parent’s right and duty to keep them as watched and controlled as possible for the sake of themselves and others.
All of that said, it was still pretty hilarious that the episode playing when I saw this ad was Barting Over, when Bart gets emancipated from Homer and Marge after exploitation and abuse. Now the ad just needs to run during Lost Verizon.