Two NSA agents are live reviewing the logs of Kevan Gilbert’s web usage

Agent 1: This is the guy?
Agent 2: Yeah, this is the guy.
Agent 1: Remind me why we’re watching him?
Agent 2: His web and social media usage was triggering some alert.
Agent 1: How so?
Agent 2: Well, look at when he posts on Facebook.
[A pause. We hear a scroll wheel on an external mouse making that clicky sound]
Agent 1: Hmm. He doesn’t post, really.
Agent 2: Right. And look at who he engages with on Facebook.
[A pause.]
Agent 1: He doesn’t. He just flicks through his news feed.
Agent 2: And, look how often he logs in.
Agent 1: [A gasp] That’s not possible!
Agent 2: I know!
Agent 1: But how is this special? Isn’t this just the usual pattern of distracted, compulsive, smoke-break-style check-ins?
Agent 2: Sure, but correlate that to what he does on mobile.
Agent 1: Hmm, sure looks at Twitter and Instagram a lot.
Agent 2: But does he post?
Agent 1: Not to Twitter, no. Maybe once a month.
Agent 2: Now check Instagram.
Agent 1: Constant usage. Semi-regular interaction. Then, days or weeks of silence where he doesn’t even log in.
Agent 2: What does that say to you?
Agent 1: Binge behaviour?
Agent 2: Yep.
Agent 1: Again. Why does this concern us? Just another junkie, like all the rest.
Agent 2: The man never talks with his real friends.
Agent 1: Never?
Agent 2: Look at his emails and texts.
Agent 1: So sporadic.
Agent 2: And brief!
Agent 1: Maybe all his meaningful contact is offline?
Agent 2: Now we’re getting somewhere.
Agent 1: So that’s the red flag?
Agent 2: Yep. If his online interactions are weak, it might mean his offline interactions are too strong.
Agent 1: And that’s a problem because…?
Agent 2: [A fist slams on the desk] It means he’s off the grid. It means he’s a wildcard! We can’t monitor him enough!
Agent 1: Maybe he’s just busy. Maybe he has a family.
Agent 2: That’s no excuse! It means we can’t monitor him.
Agent 1: But what if it’s the opposite? Maybe his online interactions are weak, AND his offline interactions are too? Maybe he wishes he was able to talk with friends more, but doesn’t for some reason?
Agent 2: You’re saying his connected habits are emotionally driven, and not values-based? Like eating junk food when you really need to work out?
Agent 1: Yeah. And this “lurking” web usage, he’s acting like it’s a radar ping, hoping the internet will somehow notify people who care about him that his out there, stranded, needing a hug.
Agent 2: Well, if you’re right, yet another red flag. An emotionally sensitive web user, disconnected from meaningful online discussion, engaging in relationally-void web habits. What does that sound like to you?
Agent 1: That does sound like someone we should watch out for.
Agent 1: Actually, it sounds like someone who needs help.
Agent 2: That’s not the answer we’re looking for.
Agent 1: Maybe we should get into counselling instead. Or chaplaincy. We can spy on users to detect pathologies and destructive emotional tendencies, then swoop in with spiritual care.
Agent 2: That would be utterly against protocal, and not at all within our mandate. And don’t say “spy.”
Agent 1: I know. I just wish I could leak these documents to a counsellor in his area or something.
[A pause, silence. The scroll-whee makesl shuddery-click sounds.]
Agent 2: Look at this.
Agent 1: What?
Agent 2: He’s writing something on his website. What is it?
Agent 1: Uh, looks like a script of some kind. I think he’s…wait, he’s writing a script about us!
Agent 2: Shut him down! Stop him now.
[Fingers sound like they are clamouring over keys]
Agent 1: But that’s against protocol!
Agent 2: This conversation stays here, and nowhere else! Stop him!
Agent 1: I’m trying to stop, but he’s already posting it! He’s going live with it!
[A pause]
Agent 2: Wait, he seems to be distracted. He’s just…clicking on news websites.
Agent 1: Is he reading a post about the VMAs on the Vancouver Sun?
Agent 2: Yeah, he seems to have forgotten he was writing anything at all.
Agent 1: Now he’s staring at Facebook again.
Agent 2: Threat neutralized. Let him be.