I vividly remember the day I cut up my credit card.
Well, “vividly” might be a bit of an exaggeration as I was a little tipsy.
The day also included what I will always list as one of the greatest moments of my life—seeing a Volkswagen Beetle stuffed so full of people dressed as clowns that limbs were hanging out of windows.
It was Carnival in Cyprus, a time where social norms are tipped upside down and chaos reigns in the streets. Out with some new travel companions, I was complaining about the microchip in my credit card.
At that point, Canada hadn’t yet legislated that every debit and credit card use microchip technology, but it was already making its way into the wallets of consumers.
I had this microchip on me, following me wherever I went, emitting information to whoever had the technology to receive it. It creeped me out. I didn’t want it. I wanted to cut it up.
“Do it!” said my new British friend, egging me on with his own alcohol induced joviality. I don’t remember how scissors were procured—probably a gift from the waitress—but soon I had pieces of what was once my Mastercard spread in front of me on the table. I made sure to bring the chunks with the important bits back to the hostel and melted them with a lighter in case anyone should get any identity-stealing ideas.
At this time I’d like to point out the folly of my plan.
I was on an island in the Mediterranean. Since I’m now in Canada, one can surmise that I utilized some sort of technology that allows me to travel long distances. As we are all aware, these kinds of advancements in the ability for humans to move generally require credit cards. Lucky for me at the time, I had a joint bank account with a person who kept their credit card, not slicing it into pieces with me in a show of rage against the system.
Yeah, that was part of my plan. How else was I going to book an airplane ticket?
We live in a world where it’s required to have a credit card should you want to buy certain things. Want a hotel room? We take VISA, Mastercard and American Express (because who takes Discover? Nobody, that’s who). Planning a flight? You’ll need to dish the digits before getting off the ground.
Since I have both flown and stayed in a hotel since that time five years ago, you can surmise I got another credit card.
Also in that time, Steven Harper legislated that all debit and credit cards must have a microchip in them. “It’s more secure,” proponents argued (no, it’s not). “It’s easier,” said the masses, “just type in a PIN and all is well.”
All isn’t well. We’re living in a society where we are bombarded with frequencies bouncing around us all of the time. Our microchips contain information about us. If people want that information, all they need to do is utilize the technology to seek it out. I’m uncomfortable with the thought of data being emitted from my possessions.
It doesn’t stop at credit cards. What’s a way to speed up the flow of people going through public transportation? Just stick a microchip on their bus pass and all they’ll have to do is swipe their way through a turnstile.
Tired of masses of keys dangling off of keychains? Just change the apartment’s front door to an automated system and all people have to do is put their wallets near the card reader and presto! Entrance to home granted.
When I count it all up: debit and credit cards, cards for access to school labs and everything, I have six cards with some sort of technology that tells the right receiver something about me. I don’t like being so known, being so trackable.
It makes me uncomfortable.
But how uncomfortable? Not uncomfortable enough to go to a different laundry mat.
That’s right, even the laundry mat in my building requires the use of a card with a microchip. No more plugging in coins to the machines, all I do is load up my card at the kiosk and I’m good to go: each washer and drier has a card-reader.
Don’t worry, the kiosk takes credit cards.