"More than machinery, we need humanity."
Twas the night before Christmas, and all thro’ the house
The only sound to be heard, was the click of a mouse;
The family used their digital devices with little care,
In hopes that their wants just might be satisfied there;
The children they played on their smart phones in beds,
While visions from their apps danced in their heads,
From personal computers, to tablets, there was no cap,
All were settled in for a technologically wrought nap –
But within every device there arose a silent clatter,
Yet none in the sleepy house knew what was the matter.
But whether on Apple or Windows, with every app flash,
Every detail was logged, bound tightly as if with a sash.
There had been that wise lad – named den after snow,
Who had tried to give warning of what happens below
The surface of the devices – if pulled back would appear,
A surveillance apparatus, real, unlike Santa’s reindeer,
And they capture all of your details ever so quick,
But, the ones doing the watching? It isn’t St. Nick.
In pursuit of the “needle” is how they explain why they came,
Yet they gathered the haystack, too, so now they’ve your name:
From your e-mails to your GPS to your favorite online vixen,
They captured it all whether your name is Donder or Blitzen;
From the sites that you visit, to posts on your Facebook wall!
Quite regardless of your identity. Why they’ve captured it all!
For the information you create by keystrokes and taps do fly,
Through surveillance systems that pull your details from the sky;
So from this idyllic little house such information always flew
Beneath the gaze of St. Nicholas? Perhaps. But the NSA too:
Thus this electronic family could scarcely hear on the roof
The slight, albeit metaphorical, step of big brother’s hoof.
As they tapped away merrily, unaware who might be around
Through the Internet connection NSAnta came with a bound
Clad in cameras, wires, and screens, from his head to his foot,
And his wears were all tarnished from burnt civil liberties’ soot
The very latest digital devices were flung on his back,
And like a grinning tech salesperson he opened his pack:
The screens – how they twinkled! They would surely make merry,
All the people focused on the toys which glistened like a cherry,
Every new OS, ToS, platform and device presented with a bow,
For NSAnta knew that few had listened to Mr. den after Snow;
The remnants of law NSAnta ground between his teeth,
Giving his actions the protection of a quasi-legalistic wreath.
His reach had grown broad, he had an information stuffed belly
As the family kept tapping he laughed like a bowl full of jelly:
NSAnta was bloated and venal, more a foul troll than an elf,
But mark my words he’s watching – yes you, but also myself.
But the wink of his screens, the digital whispers in your head
Should inform you clearly that tech gives you plenty to dread
For spying on everyone and all, why that’s NSAnta’s work
And from our tech addictions we need to break with a jerk
For there should be a foul scent disturbing your nose
For it’s our own foolish tech from whence all this rose.
Though a promise of reform and legality may be a pleasant whistle
be not distracted by the flowery head, watch for the prickly thistle
For as he speeds off NSAnta laughs when just out of sight –
If you do nothing at all, to your civil liberties a good night!
(the above poem is based on Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” )