For this entry of our saga, I decided to concentrate on two exercises for Chapter 16: "1. Start collecting evidence that your phone is bugged" and "4. Try living the whole week with the program, 'Everybody likes me and tries to help me achieve all of my goals."
The first exercise, a bit anachronistic given the shift in technology, seems to assume that the reader's landline might be tapped by a government agency.
But in fact I've shifted largely to using a cell phone, just like most people -- and there are ways to bug cell phones, too.
A WikiHow article, "How to Tell if Your Phone is Tapped," lists four ways that your phone is tapped. I recently had to replace my cell phone because it was getting too slow, and if I were paranoid, I could certainly find some of the symptoms that are listed. (I've long wondered why some of the settings in my phone sometimes will change, without my changing them).
I probably ought to beef up the antivirus software on my phone, as the article and other articles note that wiretapping from the government is not the only threat; bad criminal actors likely are trying to put malware on my phone.
But I admit that many of the symptoms listed in the article don't show up on my phone yet, perhaps because it is a new phone. But again, if I want to be paranoid, I certainly can think of reasons why someone might tap the phone. Because the government is suspicious of some of the people I talk to as a reporter? Because this blog puts me in touch with weirdoes?
I am certainly not an expert on cell phone security, not do I spend hours worrying about the matter, so it is certainly likely that there are bad actors our there, smarter than I am, who have an interest in getting into my phone. I certainly recognize that some of the emails I get are phishing scams, but there are likely threats that I don't recognize.
There are ways to "bug" a cell phone or at least get information from it that did not apply in the landline days. Many police agencies, if they have confiscated a cell phone, know how to break into it and examine the contents. And if you are accused of a serious crime, a police agency is likely to trace if you were in the vicinity, using your cell phone to track you movements. I suppose I would know if someone had my cell phone in their possession, but how I would I know if a government agency is tracking where I go?
I only remembered to do the other exercise, "Try living the whole week with the program, 'Everybody likes me and tries to help me achieve all of my goals," a couple of days ago, so I need to keep working on it a few more days.
But I did try to concentrate on it during the weekend, bringing it to my attention several times a day, and it is true that in my interactions with people, both face to face and on the phone and on the internet, the vast majority of the people I deal with seem to be helpful.
And generally when I reach out to people, for my job or for some other reason, people try to be helpful. And thinking about people that way seems to make me feel more positive and happier. I will try to work on the exercise for a few more days.