Pay with cash.
With your extremely private, very personal and top-secret financial information leaking like a sieve all over the Internet, perhaps it's time to return to better times.
Like when you bought something, you pulled out your wallet, grabbed some currency and plunked it down in a face-to-face transaction with your grocer, cleaner, service station attendant or haberdasher.
No disclosing your name, age, address, bank account, marital status or the name of your second cousin twice removed. No one to pass the data on to a virtual criminal who breaks into your virtual home to steal your real life savings. As your reward for shopping at Target.
Pick up your phone (land, cell or smart), and you could find yourself being monitored by the National Security Agency because you are unaware that you are three degrees of separation from known Benghazi jihadists. You might want to seriously consider revisiting the practice of penning a letter.
I know that recent generations will find this hard to believe, but paying cash once was how Americans lived. Even harder to believe, it wasn't so bad. In fact that way of life included something precious that we've lost — simplicity.
Technology is supposed to carry us into a better future, making our lives more convenient, safe and fruitful. Instead, we find ourselves hanging on for dear life, as if technology were an out-of-control monster car rushing us headlong toward unknown difficulties or horrors.
What we're talking about isn't the intrusions George Orwell imagined in his troubling novel "1984." Pfft, what he conjured up was nothing. Fans of the CBS television drama, "Person of Interest," starring an all-knowing computer, will better understand what I'm talking about.
We've all benefited from the digital revolution in ways too numerous to describe here. But we've had to give up something in exchange: the expectation of privacy. It seems too obvious to spend my space here writing about it, but sometimes we act like we don't get it.
We want to be completely safe of terror attacks from the most likely quarter — individuals rather than states — yet we go ballistic because the NSA is gathering information from us that will protect us from them. What, are the guardians of our security supposed to be able to read the minds of lunatics that would kill us? We expect that we can safely divulge our most personal information to complete strangers on a device at the other end of a computer yet expect that our privacy is diligently protected?
Already, we've signed away that right in numerous ways. The courts have ruled that once you have voluntarily divulged such sensitive personal information to a "third party," your expectation of privacy is limited. Even the junk you leave in your trash out on the curb for pickup isn't protected from law enforcement snooping and, well, anyone who happens along. Just walking down the street, out in public, means that you've given up a large degree of your privacy. Smile for the cameras.
We've come a long way since our Social Security cards bore the legend "For Social Security Purposes Not For Identification."
Arguably, the challenges and societal upheavals wrought by the digital revolution could be the greatest since the Industrial Revolution. Which has created a perfect opportunity for some politicians and rigid ideologists on both sides to work the threats to our privacy or our security for their own purposes.
As real as those threats are, we should be mindful that we're immersed in a monumental and difficult balancing act that should not have surprised us. We're feeling our way through it, often blindly.
I give President Barack Obama credit for showing that he would like to find ways to balance privacy and security in the digital age. Although going back to read what he said Friday, I'm not entirely sure I know what he wants.
Whether we're on the political right or left, we'll sometimes go into a lather as we feel our way along looking for the right balance. But in the meantime, if you want to be totally secure in your privacy, get out your wallet and pay cash.