Don't Fence Me In.


The text message popped up on my phone early this month.

“We need 98 people to renew their memberships before Trump takes the stage at a rally in Toledo tonight. Yours expired. Renew now.”

The text came with a link to  A  little Google research for “NRSC”  turned up the National Republic Senatorial Committee. Huh? Had I ever been a member of a Republican senate fundraising group?

Anyone who has met me, or has read a blog of mine or my co-correspondent Anne would probably have a pretty good guess that I have not been supporting many Republican candidates for Senate or for anything else. I have voiced my support for anyone running against Donald Trump.

So I was a loss as to how the Republicans got me on their message blast list. I didn’t pay it much attention, even after getting a follow-up text saying I was now listed as LAPSED (their caps.) Well, maybe I cheered a bit when I found out I had lapsed. Hoorah!

Then before sunrise this morning I was reading a column by Thomas Edsall in the New York Times, discussing how superior the Republicans are to the Democrats in digital marketing. The column  detailed a technique called “geofencing.” It’s a technology that allows an agency to set a “digital rope” around a particular area and capture the cell numbers of any phone passing into the zone. And a conservative advocacy group called  has been particularly effective in circling Catholic churches and texting people who enter them. And no, they haven’t been advocating for Bernie or Amy or Joe.

Could I have somehow been roped in? I am a semi-observant Jewish boy who rarely enters a synagogue, much less a church. No way I could have been marked as a church goer. And then the sun rose and the dawn came and I had a revelation. I had been to a Catholic church recently.

You see, I have a new great-niece, the daughter of my fantastic nephew and his more fantastic wife, and we were happy to celebrate the baby’s combined “Hebrew Naming – Baptism” ceremony with the family. The baby naming was at a restaurant (by definition, Jewish ceremonies involve food) and the lovely baptism ceremony was, of course, was in a church.

So perhaps I have been fenced. To be clear, this would have been accomplished by an outside agency, not someone from the local church or at the ceremony. And maybe my blurbs from the NRSC are totally unrelated.

In any case, it is good to be aware of the various means of digital tracking we can come into contact with every day. Remember, someone is always watching, listening, and whispering into our ears.

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photo credit: Timothy Valentine Chatham Beach and Tennis Club via photopin (license)

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