Stealth Technology, or How to Find Out Everything About Anybody

Posted on May 28, 2016


In my business as an historian/social scientist I do a lot of snooping.

Years ago, historians started dipping into the world of psychology to explore the minds and lives of figures they were studying. So we had a book, Young Man Luther, by Erik Erikson, which came out in 1958, delving into Martin Luther’s identity crisis as perhaps the source of his juvenile angst, which, of course, led to angst with everything, including his role in the Church.

That led to the Protestant Reformation in the early sixteenth century. That gave great angst to the entire Christian establishment which ended separating into warring Protestant and Catholic factions. People didn’t just offend each other back then; they burned the offenders at the stake.

Psychology proved to be a powerful tool for the historian, except for one small fact: our “patients,” the people we were studying, were usually quite dead, sometimes having been so for centuries, or even millennia. They are difficult to interview unless you are into channeling or the occult or perhaps believe in zombies.

During the WWII allied psychologists also turned their attention to determining what secrets were hidden away in the minds of living people, like the notorious Adolph Hitler, still very much alive and killing people by the millions.

What made him tick? He was apparently big into sexual fantasies and the lot and so they figured to unhinge him with pornographic literature. They showered his hideaway in the Alps with porn. There is little evidence that the porn bombardment changed anything, other than perhaps a few locals’ heads who may have wondered what the allies were up to now.

We are constantly, in fact, trying to get into the heads of those who have made, or are making, history.

Or the search may be intensely personal. You simply want to know what is going on the head of someone close to you–a friend, perhaps your spouse, children, or boss. How to do this?

Sigmund Freud either helped us, or muddled the way we study ourselves, back in the early twentieth century. He analyzed dreams and basically said through dreams, and of course, psychoanalysis (the couch business), we could determine how your id, ego, and superego were moving you around the chessboard of life.

A lot had to do with basic urges, to have sex, to eat, to survive, to have more sex, etc. I am summarizing Freud, not suggesting you drop all your inhibitions.

If you stay inhibited, in Freudian analysis, you will be repressed. And that leads to other psychological terms invented by Freud and his followers to help his patients escape their Victorian morality and prudish behavior. Let it all hang out for your mental stability or health, something like that.

I apologize to my friends in Psychology for such simple-mindedness, but we are searching here for how to find out everything about anybody.

The modern world of social media, and the tell-all environment of places like Facebook, YouTube, Tweet, Google Plus, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. will save you a lot of time in your detective work.

People use these as confessionals of sorts, recruiting devices, sexual displays–Freud would like Facebook–and admit to and display an amazing amount of life’s intimate details, from the most sublime to the most blatant. Now you expose yourself (sometimes literally) to the whole world.

Okay, getting to crunch time here. How do you find out everything about everyone? I need three things from you: how you spend your money; what you watch on television and social media, including all devices and apps; and a record of your emails.

Or, show me how you spend your money and your time, and it will tell me pretty much all about you. You have to be honest. No secrets. If you used your email to send top secret “for your eyes only” messages—like Hilary Clinton—we need it all.

In fact, the real you may still be beneath the “public you” on social media. Finding the real you can be both edifying and terrifying.

I have read obits and read about people which spoke of immense compassion and love for their fellow man. They just didn’t brag about it.

And I watch presidential candidates today talk, bluster, brag, and blow hard, and have no idea what they are really like. But, show me how you spend your money and time, and zap, we will know the real you. Scary.

Published May 14, 2016 in The Tuscaloosa News as “What You Do With Money, Time Tells All.”

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