He comes for you when you're awake. / Richard Elzey
Hannah Gais,  December 21, 2015

“He Sees You When You’re Sleeping”: The Baffler Gift Guide

He comes for you when you're awake. / Richard Elzey
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“You have zero privacy anyway,” Scott McNealy, the chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems, told reporters in 1999. “Get over it.”

McNealy, a trailblazer for the many Silicon Valley “makers” who have since thrown privacy under the bus, wasn’t wrong. And indeed, his latest project, WayIn, monitors, measures, and aggregates social content for brands.

Privacy is dead, to borrow Steve Rambam’s blunt turn of phrase, and consumers were the willing executioners. (Rambam, a long-time private investigator, is quick to acknowledge that this abundance of freely or cheaply available personal information is of huge benefit to him professionally, too.) From Buzzfeed to Facebook, we’ve traded our personal data for free, shiny web trinkets. As McNealy beckoned us to, we opted-in, consumed, and shared our way forth. When Angry Birds asked “A/S/L,” we were pleased to oblige. In short, we followed the orders from on high to “get over it” so thoroughly that when the future arrived for our children, on the little cat feet of the Internet of Things, it turned out to be a mangled fur ball of all the data we had given away.

In honor of our injudicious surrender to our technofetishist overlords, we at The Baffler are pleased to offer a compendium of family-friendly products that facilitate better living through the surrender of your most intimate personal details! 

Hello Barbie
$74.95

Kids talk to themselves all the time with nothing but their own imagination offering up a reply—now, with Hello Barbie, that conversation need not be so one-sided. As Hello Barbie is equipped with speech recognition and Wi-Fi that allows it to upload a child’s response to The Cloud, as well as flimsy security that leaves the doll vulnerable to hacking, there’s no telling if it’s the Barbie or a digital intruder that’s saying “Hello” back (and asking your child where they live). Only humourless privacy advocates and curmudgeons, like those at Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, would name this data-grubbing go-getter the worst toy of the year.

Canary All-In-One Security
$199

It may look like Design Within Reach recreated the tall boy beer can for sophisticated urban elites, but Canary’s all-in-one home security system makes parental snooping—otherwise known as helpfully observing with an all-seeing eyeeasy with its mobile integration. Unlike Hello Barbie, Canary is equipped with Advanced Encryption Standard 256-bit symmetric-key encryption. Stay out of my spying, National Security Agency!

FiLIP Wearable Phone and Locator
$149.99 (plus unlimited voice and data for $10.00 a month through AT&T) 

Naturally, Canary can’t go everywhere. That’s where FiLIP, a combination wristwatch/phone/colorfully-disfigured wearable tracker, comes in. A sort of happy-meal version of the Apple Watch, FiLIP lets parents and children reap all the benefits of smartphones—one-way texting, calling, location services, etc.—without any of the fun. (Good luck downloading games, videos, or music, suckers!) Its “unique” blend of GSM, GPS, and WiFi offers peace of mind to those parents who need to know the exact location of their offspring at each and every moment. Plus, with programmable “safe zones,” loving parents can receive notifications through a free smartphone app whenever their child enters or exits an arbitrarily defined space. Thar be monsters!

Sproutling
So good that you’ll be waitlisted! 

Those anxious to get started early on mainlining their child’s biometric data to The Cloud should consider Sproutling. It looks a bit like a snapable wristband, but you put it on your baby’s ankle like the lil’ bugger under house arrest that s/he is. Sproutling helps you answer these tricky questions—and more!—with your smartphone:

Is my baby dead? (Probably not.)
Is my baby crying? (Often.)
Is my baby fussy? (Most likely.)
Is my baby still asleep? (If B and C aren’t true, then it’s probable.)
How long will my baby remain asleep? (Not long enough.)

Mistletoe Drone
$69.95

Sometimes mommy and daddy fight. Shouting resonates throughout their otherwise humdrum three-bedroom home. Ceramic dishware wizzes across the room, the broken bits crackle underfoot. Daddy storms out. You cautiously walk downstairs in the morning to discover the sweet, stale stench of beer and Marlboro reds filling the room. He stumbles over to the couch.

“I want a divorce,” Mommy mutters under her breath, clutching her head in shame.

Neither pick up on your presence, but the moment will stick with you, child. 

Stave off the inevitable this holiday season with the mistletoe drone that delivers “whimsical cheer” wherever it goes.

Flying Fuck
$29.99

What do you give the spoiled, snarky, adolescent brat who has it all? A flying fuck, that’s what. Teach those fuckers to care because, as a parent, you do give a flying fuck.

Tikker Happiness Life Countdown Watch
$79.99

“This was suppose to be my daughter’s Christmas gift . . . what a disappointment!” —Carrie C D’Esposito, Winslow, Ind.

We agree, Carrie. Without considering the context of the full review, it’s tragic that your daughter disapproved of officious reminders of her own mortality.

Luxury Survival Condos
$1.5-$4.5 million

And finally, for a home away from home. Don’t let the apocalypse stop your life countdown watch early. In case of an earth-shattering atrocity, we heartily recommend the Luxury Survival Condo. Located in an Atlas “F” missile base in Kansas, these condos provide amenities needed for everyday life in the event that a major disaster boots you out of your home. “The same quality of condo in New York would have cost me the same, if not more per square foot and you get peace of mind with this,” emphasized one happy client. Yes, your new devices can come, too.

Hannah Gais is The Baffler’s audience development associate and a curmudgeonly freelance writer. Her work has appeared in Pacific Standard, Commonweal, Outline, Al Jazeera America, U.S. News and World Report, First Things, and many more outlets that she’s too lazy to name. 

You can find her on Twitter @hannahgais.

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