Strangers are following you. Teams of them, coordinating their surveillance. Recording you. Attacking you with sonic devices. Maybe burning you with lasers. Maybe implanting grain-sized trackers inside your body. You can feel the hard bumps under your skin.
You are alarmed, naturally, and turn for help to those you trust: your family and friends. Maybe law enforcement. Only they don’t believe, you. They might even act like you’re the problem. Like you’re crazy.
Welcome to the world of Targeted Individuals, a loose confederation of those, in their words, subject to the “growing crimes of organized stalking, surveillance, abuse and electronic harassment.”
I first met Targeted Individuals last August, passing a protest in the Loop marking “International Targeted Individual Day.” I took a flyer, showing the fearful blue eyes of a weeping woman.
"INFORM YOURSELF," it declares. "SHARE. DEMAND CHANGE."
Calling spokeswoman, “Ella Free,” started with a surprise.
“A good portion of people who claim to be Targeted Individuals are actually mentally ill,” she said. Straight to the elephant in the room. “So many of them, people have the same story: it’s interesting that a person isolated is having a very similar scenario.”
She meant “interesting” as in “persuasive” — these people are describing the same thing, therefore it must have basis in reality. That logic doesn’t hold up.
“People who are paranoid start to latch onto the same kind of delusion,” said David LaPorte, a professor of psychology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “This is not uncommon. When airplanes first started, people started having delusions they were being followed by airplanes. The computer has been a huge issue that leaked into paranoid delusions. Every technological advance becomes fodder for paranoid individuals.”
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