Do you remember when the internet really took off off in the mid-90s and so many commentators heralded the brave new age of creativity, independence—and freedom?
Paging Edward Snowden. Come in, Mr. Snowden.
As revelations of snooping, file sharing and leaks continue to pour in on an almost-daily basis it’s probably a safe bet to now say that the early enthusiasm might have been a tad misplaced. Or flat out wrong.
For while indeed, many wondrous and exciting things have taken place through the World Wide Web and its expanding social media tentacles, sober participants among us must wonder how positive our interconnectedness truly is today. Not much is sacred or personal any longer and it’s increasingly difficult, even for the non-participants of the Information Age, to be anonymous: you can pretend to “opt out” but it’s just a charade. You may not tweet, blog or have a Facebook or LinkedIn page but your personal information exists somewhere out there on a database. Count on it.
And while “privacy” is still considered by most of us—especially Americans—to be an untouchable and precious right, the majority of us are daily giving out private information in droves that not even our priests, shrinks or significant others knows about. Hence the ironic paradox of our time: don’t gather data on us—we’d rather give it away on Facebook.
Apparently most of us are inviting Big Brother into the house, pouring him shots of Victory Gin and confiding in him about where we eat, who we’re dating, what kind of music we like and who we’re going to vote for. Anything else you need to know, pal? Wait for my status update! You want data that possibly might and can be used against me in the future? Sure thing!
Willingly, we’ve turned over our lives to the great liberator that was supposed to be. But at least we’re no longer lonely or isolated, are we? By entering a password we can all join in the many conversations, look at the pictures, debate the issues, share the links—and give up exactly what in return?
We’re currently living by the computer. There’s little doubt about it and I include myself. Let us hope we don’t also—spiritually and legally—slowly die by it also.
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