There is no doubt that life, education, and health have been improved by advances in science and technology. Medicine, large-scale production of food, transit, and long-distance communications have all provided an immeasurable benefit to society. But has the direction of tech research and digital living reached the point where tyranny is not just a by-product of invasive control, but also the main goal?
As we allow global corporations unlimited access to our personal lives, and as the very fabric of interpersonal relations is stripped away in vicious social media interactions, we must ask ourselves if the monster we invited through the front door has outstayed its welcome.
In living memory, it was possible to go about your business without fear of past statements or opinions coming back to haunt you; not anymore. Whether it is through active participation – making posts on your Facebook timeline or responding to tweets – or inactive participation, such as being tagged in other people’s pictures, our digital footprint leaves each one of us open to accusation and persecution.
It is argued that those who are publicly denounced for “beyond the pale” opinions deserve everything they get, yet this fails to take into account shifting cultural boundaries and the Overton Window. What was acceptable in the cultural mainstream a decade ago may not be so today. Those whose opinions were not only part of the everyday landscape but even mirrored government policy at the time, now find themselves hounded and shunned.
And what of the innocents? We have all witnessed the ousting of those with opinions deemed unacceptable by certain elements on the political scene. We have watched in horror as these folks are “outed” or “exposed.” The calls for their dismissal, the demands that they be ostracized, these are the hallmarks of a despicable hatred that brooks no dissent and threatens not only the target but also their family members.
Imagine a young man who posts a message on social media pointing out that he doesn’t believe a trans woman is a real woman. A decade later, that opinion has become publically unacceptable. At the time, this was more than just a common opinion; it was almost certainly the majority opinion (and perhaps still is). Ten years on, he gets a job with a reputable company… but some keyboard warrior with a grudge hunts through his old Facebook or MySpace timelines.
Almost inevitably, after a sustained campaign from what amounts to a bunch of angry losers on their iPhones, the company fires their new employee, and his future job prospects take an irreversible dive.
At this point, the social justice warriors are singing with glee at another life claimed. And in their joyous revelry, they do spare not a single thought for the wife and children who now face a more difficult life, perhaps on the edge of poverty. There go his savings; there goes his child’s college. And what of the emotional stress on the family of a social pariah?
They have not just destroyed the man, but the innocents in his family, too.
What could be worse than willingly exposing yourself to the dangers of digital social interaction? Doing it unwillingly. As home assistant devices such as Amazon Echo’s Alexa, Google Home, and the like, become more prevalent, the individual becomes exposed to privacy invasion on a level never before seen in history. Machines do and will constantly record your internet usage, online chat history, electricity consumption, and worse, your private face to face conversations.
Recently, courts have requested that Amazon release recordings taken by their Echo home assistant to provide evidence in a murder trial. This is based on the understanding that, presumably, everything said at the crime scene was recorded and stored on Amazon’s massive servers.
The average tech user may not be aware of this enormous infringement, yet even those who do know may not have a choice in avoiding this tyrannical collection of data.
Televisions, cars, washing machines, phones, electricity meters, in fact, anything with the word “Smart” in its name is currently recording your personal data. Whether the devices are switched on or off, sensors are recording information and relaying it back to servers. And don’t believe for one instance that that stolen bundle of facts about you and your family won’t be used.
As it becomes increasingly difficult to buy any electrical product that does not contain an onboard computer, Smart technology, or basic AI, the battle over our privacy is being slowly lost.
Every business you walk into, each hotel you stay at (Marriot Hotels are in talks to equip every room with an Alexa device), each interaction with the state, takes one more peck from your individual right to privacy. The only way to completely avoid this intrusion is to opt out of society … and even that is becoming more difficult.
The Wrong Path
And what about evading potentially dangerous millimeter waves produced by the new 5G internet? Serious studies show that they are a danger to health, especially for children, but the transmitters will still be rolled out on almost every street corner in America. Why? Because like the fools we are, we have demanded an easier life through technology.
As a society, we did not stop and ask ourselves whether technological advancement is always beneficial. Through market forces, we demanded that our desires and needs be met. That science improves our day to day living, and we forget that hardship, challenge, and adversity that have molded us into species we are today.
We are a pioneer race who has become lazy. In our complacency, we have taken our eyes off the ball. Ronald Reagan warned us that, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” When we were asked if that generation would be us, we turned on our TVs, tweeted our latest holiday snaps to the world, and let tyranny invade every aspect of our lives.