Computers. The bane of my life. No, let me change that, the bane of life in general. Few would concede immediately, believing a tool of connection at one’s fingertips invaluable – and, yes, there are huge benefits, as demonstrated in our erstwhile enforced incarceration, but, ultimately, the ‘side-effects’ are immense. Of course, there is the inevitable loss of literacy, the ability to write, spell or acknowledge the existence of grammar, consigned to the past – for most. Communication, no matter how unrefined, is all that matters. Quality is expendable. Fast is key. Fast food, fast track … everything fast! What’s the rush? Why are we, all, suddenly so short of time?
Is that word ‘fast’ the key to the disintegration of so much? Society? Family? Values? To my mind, fast is synonymous with greed: the want for more; quicker; now. Greed is, in turn, synonymous with ego and so it goes on. Technology is, merely, a by-product, feeding on ego and the drive for more, ever faster. Once the genie is out of the bottle, though, there is no putting it back … Talk about going down a rabbit hole – again! This started with my ‘love’ for technology in light of me, suddenly, being unable to access my emails on my laptop. Why? Press the icon, no response. Again, why? Could it be something to do with this annoying message which kept popping up – centre screen – and distracting me, demanding that I update something or I wouldn’t be able to use something? Similar to my problem with itunes, previously, which insisted on my signing in, repeatedly, only for me to google why and be told that it was something to do with my ex-husband! Seriously! How the hell does Google know who I am or have access to that information? How scary is that?! Also, how, accidentally, so topical. One might even believe that I had written a plan for this … call it organic genius!
‘China’s ‘social credit’ system ranks citizens and punishes them with throttled internet speeds and flight bans if the Communist Party deems them untrustworthy.’
Insider, May 9, 2021
The internet. A tool which facilitates anonymity, bullying, fraud but, moreover, the monitoring and collection of data; data which, ultimately, impinges on one’s civil liberty. I had no idea of the existence of this social ranking in China, made possible by the monitoring of activity; each and every activity pertaining to one’s personal life. In a word, surveillance. (It is estimated that there are 415.8 million surveillance cameras in the country, 54% of the world’s total.). As a Chinese citizen, one’s social ranking can be affected by the late payment of bills, debt, bad driving, smoking in a non-smoking area, sitting on someone else’s reserved seat on a train, wasting money on frivolous purchases, spending too long playing video games, the list goes on. Punishments, meanwhile, include restriction from travel, clamping down on luxury options such as business class tickets or even missing out on the best jobs or schools for your children. Let your dog off the lead or have it seen to be without a collar and little Fido could, ultimately, be confiscated! Big Brother is most definitely watching.
Technology. Laptop. Iphone. Inherent in every day life. One gives it no thought until, as in my case, something goes wrong or no longer responds. Not a blink of an eye as one clicks ‘Agree’ or ‘Accept all’, flippantly consenting to the storage of one’s personal data just because it’s easier! I do often hesitate but, then, I need to read that article or that interview now so … The consequences are not trivial, though, so what is the urgency? Why do most of us have no time to, at the very least, manage our cookies?!
Think of all the personal data stored, then. Aside from banking, the sites one visits, the purchases one makes, one’s social media. Then, there is the camera! That ever watchful eye on one’s laptop and one’s phone. How is it that one can have a conversation about an item – while on one’s laptop or holding one’s phone – and, then, miraculously, one starts receiving adverts for said item or similar? I haven’t even started on Alexa! Who the hell would be deranged or lazy enough to, voluntarily, have such a monitoring device in one’s own home? Are we truly that numbed?
Now, we face COVID passports. Enforced ID to enable – so far – travel, entry to nightclubs come September and the rest? Of course, this is just the beginning. As the Government tests the reaction, it is handing the responsibility to individual businesses and employers as the scaremongering continues and life, as we once knew it, becomes a distant memory. Soon there will be no living at all for those who choose not to be blackmailed into a medical procedure whose long-term effects are unknown; the same people who wish no such impingement on their civil liberty; who value the right to choose.
‘Once we’ve built a system that links our identity to our health data and made this a condition of re-entering pubs, cinemas or concerts, or even our workplace, we could link it to other data, too, public or private.’
Stephanie Hare, ‘Give pause before you raise a glass to the prospect of a vaccine passport’, The Guardian.
Big Brother is very definitely watching but is lethargy reason enough to forego one’s freedom? The freedom for which our forefathers fought – and for which so many sacrificed their lives – in WWI and II? The silent acquiesce …
‘Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.’
George Bernard Shaw
This is Trish, signing off.