Being able to not worry about surveillance is a privilege (really a status marker) of sorts, so those who are “paranoid” are signaling lower status. But often they have good reason to be paranoid. Not only or primarily because of law enforcement, but also because of the taxman and other assorted busybodies.
There’s a town in the next county inhabited largely by tarheels, who arrived during the Depression for the timber jobs, and they’re notoriously averse to outside attention. I was driving through the backwoods around there a couple weeks ago taking in the beautiful scenery, which in addition to the peaks and glaciers included a mother bear and her cubs and a herd of elk, and I saw some chickens running around in a yard. I remarked to my local friend that those were gamecocks rather than your typical utility chicken, and he informed me that cock fighting was big in the area. I asked whether it was Mexicans, and he said “no, it’s the tarheels.” He added that there were some places those who weren’t from the town knew to avoid, because “if you go in you might not come out.” Later, when I saw a ruined building on a big concrete lot through the woods my friend told me that it had been a mandatory weigh station for logging trucks until someone blew it up with dynamite.
Of course, he added that it’s all changing these days, because everyone’s losing community and local character due to the information age. He sounded as though he preferred the old, paranoid edgy past to the Brave New World growing up around us. I think I do, too.