Keeping tabs, electronically
Anyone with a smartphone knows there’s an app for every human need, from the daily news to the daily lottery, from finding true love to finding those notorious porn sites. The Internet brings out the best in us, but usually the worst.
In the spirit of enlightened management, employers have taken this technology to a new level with a phone app that keeps track of workers, sort of like those locator bracelets that Lindsay Lohan had to wear to make sure she wasn’t partying at night clubs and chugalugging Coronas while she was on probation.
Every boss should know where his staff is hanging out ... or hiding out. It’s necessary for good management. It ensures a better bottom line, high productivity and even higher CEO compensation.
Smart phones help keep tabs on employees. If you can’t chain them to their desks, then the “hide and seek app” — not its real name — lets you follow them all across this great land of ours, especially when they sneak away from their work stations and head for the mall, the motel room or the ball park. This practice is known as “doing personal business on company time,” which is a grave offense in a capitalist society.
A California woman recently filed a lawsuit against her boss after she was fired for allegedly deleting a phone app that let him allegedly keep track of her. (There are a lot of “allegedly’s” in this story.)
The Xora management app, which monitors employees in the field, let her company know where she was and whether she was working. Her lawsuit claims this was an invasion of privacy and that her boss “admitted employees would be monitored while off duty and bragged he knew how fast she was driving at specific moments ever since she had installed the app on her phone.”
More and more businesses require employees to have tracking apps on their smart phones to protect corporate information and prevent malingering on company time.
If they had tracking devices when I was a managing editor, life would have been easier. I could have kept track of the “roving reporters,” who were prone to do more roving than reporting.
One fellow spent company time photographing weddings, but I could never catch him. It was a lucrative business, which he should have pursued on his own time, not when he was supposed to be shooting high school field hockey games. While he was at the reception, helping the bride take off her garter, Town Hall could have been burning down.
When reporters weren’t in the newsroom, they were usually around the corner at the local pub. I still remember the day the police scanner started squawking that an ambulance was racing to the popular watering hole because a man had fallen off the bar stool.
My enthusiastic cub reporter — who loved to chase ambulances and eventually pursued a career in law — jumped from his seat and rushed out the door to get the story, only to arrive at the bar just as the Town Hall reporter was being carried out on a stretcher and into the ambulance, which took him to the Emergency Room, where he was treated for his injuries ... and intoxication.
I could have prevented that unfortunate mishap if I equipped him with a tracking device like Lindsay Lohan’s locator bracelet, designed to monitor bar-hoppers.
Tracking apps are the latest rage in our surveillance-obsessed society, which has cameras on every street corner and intersection, not to mention malls, shops, elevators, offices, car dealerships, ballparks and gyms.
It’s only a matter of time before Big Government, the New World Order and Corporate America take the computer chip out of the phone and put it in your hand. That’s surely something to look forward to.
The most popular Christmas gift this year will probably be a family-friendly app that lets us keep tabs on our kinfolk and friends. Countless spouses would love to know where their partners are, especially if they’re sneaking off to the casino, the race track, McDonald’s or, in my case, Barnes and Noble. Some are probably rendezvousing with another man or woman. And what about those wayward teenagers who are prone to going places they shouldn’t?
We all need to be tracked. It’s a fact of life that greater surveillance encourages greater accountability. At least that’s what I’ve been told.
Contact Joe Pisani at joefpisani [at] yahoo.com.