I don’t like admitting this, but, if I’m being honest, I really want to put a microchip in my six-year-old daughter.
I want to take my daughter to the equivalent of a veterinarian and say, “Hey, you know those identification microchips that people insert under the skin of their border collies? I want you to do that to my daughter right now.” And I will look at my daughter and shrug and say, “It’ll be OK. I’ll buy you ice cream afterwards.”
And, once the procedure is done, I want to have COMPLETELY unrealistic expectations about what that microchip can do. I want that microchip to be GPS-enabled, so I’ll know where my daughter is at all times. I want that microchip to give me a constant feed of biometric readings, providing me with real-time alerts if she’s ever injured or in distress. And I want that microchip to connect directly to my cell phone the SECOND my daughter finds herself in a situation where she honestly, legitimately needs my help.
Now, before you start in on me, dear readers, I know this is a bad thing to WANT.
I know that’s not how those microchips work, and I know that this entire scenario is completely unrealistic and more than a little morally repellent.
But, as a parent, as I sit at home and watch the news stories unfold about a man in Cleveland imprisoning three girls in his house for TEN YEARS, subjecting them to untold horrors and violations, the irrationality centers in my brain begin firing like spark plugs and I find myself lying awake at night, creating crazy and elaborate scenarios for how I could make sure that something like that could never, ever happen to MY daughter.
My 3am mind pitches concepts like:
- I could give my daughter a cell phone at age seven, a GPS smart-phone that could never be turned off or run out of battery or never, ever leave her side.
- I could quit my job and become a professional “companion” parent, dropping her off and picking her up from school every day and never letting her leave my sight in the meantime.
- I could develop my brain’s inherent psychic abilities, so that, if my daughter was ever abducted and held captive only a few miles from home, I could IMMEDIATELY sense wherever she was because I’m her father – DAMMIT – and that’s what fathers do.
Again, all of those scenarios are INSANE. They are. But there are enough nuggets of paranoid truths in each one that I find myself returning to them again and again whenever I catch a glimpse of something horrible on CNN and I mentally turn the corner into the back alleys of my darkest places.
I have moments where I honestly think that a cell phone might be the easiest (and most socially acceptable) way to equip my daughter with a GPS tracker. I obsess about whether I’m spending enough time with my daughter and whether, if I worked less, I could somehow be able to keep her appreciably safer. And I really, really want to believe that, if a man kidnapped my daughter and imprisoned her in a nearby location, that I would just KNOW – I would KNOW in my GUT – exactly how to find and save her.
And, in my most troubled daydreams, I keep coming back to that mythical microchip, that subcutaneous security blanket that could constantly assure me that my daughter is fine and resting comfortably EXACTLY where I want her to be.
Don’t get me wrong – I am well aware that these fantasies are flawed at best, psychotic at worst. As seductive as the idea of the microchip is, if it actually did exist, I don’t know if I could pull the trigger and get it implanted into my child. When I’m not imagining worst-case scenarios involving my daughter, I’m normally a big believer in civil liberties and privacy rights. And I know in my soul, if such a microchip existed, eventually, it would be used to violate my daughter’s personal freedoms – either by the government or her school district or the nefarious “terms and services” agreements put forth by almost every social-networking platform in existence.
The microchip would be used, in some way, to CONTROL her, and most of these paranoid fantasies are arising specifically because I do not want ANYONE to control my daughter.
And I HATE that impulse. I hate that I want to control her. But, as a parent, I have to acknowledge that that impulse is THERE – it exists inside me – and I have to fight every day to figure out how to be a “good parent” when I have impulses like that screaming in the back of my mind.