She Said, He Said: Microchipping Employees

The following is the 10th entry in “She Said, He Said,” a new series of articles seeking to compare and contrast the various views, political, social or otherwise, of Millennials in today’s world. Elizabeth Lane is a 2016 Carson-Newman University graduate with a BA in Creative Writing, and has worked at the Jefferson County Post as a journalist and feature writer since shortly before her graduation. Jake Depew is a 2014 Carson-Newman University graduate with a BS in Philosophy. He is the assistant editor and a columnist for the Jefferson County Post, and is the Editor for the Gatlinburg Daily Post.

This article’s question: “A company in Wisconsin is asking employees to have a microchip inserted in their hands for transactions and business authorization. What are your thoughts on installing microchips in people?

Elizabeth Lane

Elizabeth Lane

She said…

We all hear crazy stuff on the news each day that makes us shake our head and wonder what is happening in our ever-evolving society. Technology and terms are constantly changing, forever shaping the way we communicate and interact with one another. Want to take it a step further? A company in Wisconsin is asking employees to voluntarily have a microchip inserted between their thumb and finger in either hand.

Many questions arise from this. Why would they even think about microchipping employees in the first place? What is the microchip used for, and what happens if they change their mind or decide to leave the company? The microchip is apparently being used to pay and sign into things for the office building, and not for tracking purposes.

I have seen my fair share of dystopian or post-apocalyptic movies. Just to give you a summary, this sort of thing does not usually end well. Like all technology, I am sure that for now it is most likely being used for strictly business purposes. I do not think that it will have such an innocent use later on down the road, if the use of it is allowed to continue. In my opinion, this is basically just a bad opportunity waiting for the right person to come along and take it.

I am not trying to sound like some sort of conspiracy theorist. No, I don’t think the government is going to use these things to track us down. I just feel that the insertion of such devices into human beings is wrong. That, in my mind, is an invasion of privacy, and I do not see why the company does not use retinal or finger print scanners for its employees to gain access to things, if keeping things in-house is such a big concern.

As technology continues to grow, I am sure that we will hear of more and more instances where people are being microchipped in the name of business or technology. I do not think that this is something that a lot of people are going to easily be on board with, or frankly will ever be comfortable with. There is a somewhat sinister control factor behind all of this that does not sit well. Once you have been given the device, it is basically signing away a part of your humanity. You are no longer your own.

In the case of the company in Wisconsin, employees were given a choice to take the chip or not, and some of them backed out. If employees wanted to change their mind about having the device inserted, they can apparently just pop it out themselves or have a doctor remove it, as it is rumored to only be the size of a grain of rice.

Still, it sounds like a painful situation to get out of, and is probably just best avoided in the first place. For the sake of sanity, I don’t think I could easily sit well knowing there was something like that in my hand without easy removal. Maybe I am just stuck in the past and this is the future of commerce and business, but for now microchipping is definitely out on my list.

Jake Depew

Jake Depew

He said…

I’ve anticipated multiple talking points that we’ve addressed in “She Said, He Said,” yet I never expected the topic of microchipping employees to come up. Perhaps most unexpected of all is how I’ve come to feel about the matter.

If you’ve been following this column, you probably know me as a bit of a conspiracy theorist. I’m also fairly sure I’m right about those conspiracies. Still, I have my limits. I use logic in my theories. I’m no Roswell-obsessed nutjob, convinced that Area 51 has alien artifacts hidden deep in the basement. I mean, really! Why on Earth would the government keep civilization-changing technology squirreled away in a desert base that you can see from your car? It does make for a nice decoy, though, while you hide the real Area 51 in Hoover Dam or under Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, so you blend into the electric grid and move hundreds of workers, guards, and shipments about in plain sight.

But I digress.

The more I’ve thought about the idea of microchipping someone, the more I realize I just don’t care. One of the grand truths of technological innovation is the trade between convenience and privacy. I don’t like the idea of giving up privacy, and God forbid I agree with the British point of view here, but “nothing to hide, nothing to fear.” Bear with me for a second.

We live under the illusion of privacy all the time. We have laws in place, for now, that “limit” information-gathering on U.S. Citizens to certain cases, even under the laughable Patriot Act. Who governs the government? We take their word that we aren’t being tracked and manipulated by any number of government organizations because there are no public records saying we are, at the moment (although the NSA supposedly wasn’t monitoring citizens, either). In other words, we are taking it on “good” faith that everything we do with our communications isn’t being tracked and filed and sorted already. Think about that for a second.

Let’s say you’ve decided, for whatever reason, to murder someone. You blow them away with a shotgun, hop in your car, and take off down the interstate. You’ve marathoned Law&Order far too many times to make the stupid, simple mistakes, right? You wouldn’t dare buy something with a credit card.

Why is that?

The moment you signed up for a bank account, turned on a computer for the first time, or made a telephone call, you signed away your right to privacy. The contract might not have been in ink, but we’ve been living with the agreement for decades. I don’t see how microchipping someone is going to make any difference. Your phone has a GPS signal. You look up how to get to the beach using images compiled of virtually every major and minor road in the country. I don’t worry about living in an information-mining age, because we have been for years. I can understand why some people are against the practice, though. A microchip is an item you can’t easily remove. I can’t ditch my microchip in a lake somewhere, in theory.

Let’s be clear, there are lines that should not be crossed. I think the loss of privacy is an agreement in exchange for services. As such, I expect those services to remain unhindered. Britain has been banning multiple types of consensual pornography lately, getting a foot in the door at censoring and monitoring the internet under the guise of the “social good.” This is the real danger. “1984” comes when we sign away our privacy in exchange for masked manipulations and government-driven ignorance. A lack of microchips hasn’t kept the government in some semblance of check. 360,000,000+ Americans have done that. We can beat back the censorship and the deceit, so long as we remember that we do not need protection from ourselves, or from ideas. This is, arguably, the thinnest line that any civilization has ever had to walk between technological enlightenment and societal collapse. We have to have active, vigilant defense of our communication freedoms. We have the immense fortune of living long enough to see this time in human history. Now, we just have to keep from screwing it up.

Source: Elizabeth Lane, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer; Jake Depew, Assistant Editor

Jefferson Farmers Co-op 08112014