spying by our government
and the demise of personal freedoms. Well, Mr. and
Mrs. America and all the ships at sea, they’re quite properly twisted around
our ankles and I’m a great supporter of whistleblowers. Without the Edward
Snowdens of the world, there would be no crack in the door of secrecy.
the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen
questions. Nearly everything we do these days is connected in one way or
another with the Internet. Banking, searches for
information, newspapers, film
and TV access, online shopping (or comparisons prior to purchase in shops),
cell phone use, Facebook, Twitter, emails and the list goes on, if you stop to
think about it—every step of the way, statistically sliced and diced by Corporate
America for their own purposes (it’s no proofreading error that I have
capitalized Corporate America as a
that little ‘terms and conditions’ check box we mindlessly mark off, as an
example. No one willingly wades through pages of legal gobbledygook and what’s
the choice anyway? If we want access, we click. More and more, we’ve spun off our treasured United States of America, distorting it
into the Corporation of America. With
or without the mass surveillance of the NSA, Homeland Security, FBI, CIA and
their 1,271 supporting government organizations, Big Business is already well ahead
of the game.
and perhaps more importantly, what it says about the ‘Brave New World’ in which we live? If you disremember the
reference, according to Wikipedia:
Huxley and published in 1932. Set in London of AD 2540 (632 A.F. – “After
Ford” – in the book), the novel anticipates developments in reproductive
technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and operant
conditioning that combine to profoundly change society. Huxley answered this
book with a reassessment in an essay, Brave New World Revisited (1958), and
with Island (1962), his final novel.
would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a
book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who
would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much
that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared that the truth
would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea
of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared
we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the
feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.
there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people
in’t.” The Bard thought these were goodly creatures, the beauty of mankind.
Now here we are, 403 years after the
play and 526 years before the date
presumed in Huxley’s novel. A neat trick of history, skewered as we are,
between nearly a thousand years of writing—pinned to reality like butterflies
on a board.
of terms. Every time we press the ‘agree’ button to access a bank statement or
Internet site, we willingly give up individual privacy. One might fairly argue
that the choice is more desperately than willingly made, but we are wound
tightly to the centrifugal bumblepuppy. That’s today’s price of access, unless
you live in a cabin in the woods, hunting and gathering your own food.
choice actually a choice if denial is crippling? You can see what a tasty (but
indigestible) stew we’ve been offered, while starving for entry to worlds that
didn’t even exist a generation ago. Overfed by the cornucopia the Internet lays
before us, it seems the bill is finally presented at the edge of the plate,
with a whispered “thank you very much,
sir we hope to see you again soon.” It may have been an overly costly meal,
but see us again they will.
Snowden NSA leaks are bland as tofu by comparison, with no gustatory reward
other than a tasteless, odorless “keeping
you safe, sir” as the bill arrives, along with the sly wink of a used-car
Business is made of stronger stuff. ATMs? “Certainly,
sir” and $360 a year on average popped
on the bill to access your own money.
“Surfing the Web, sir? Easily done and,
by the bye, we’ll delight you by sending ads directly to your cell-phone sir,
especially chosen for you by tracking your
very own buying habits. Oh no sir, no
trouble at all.”
Business intrudes into your life knowing what make of car you drive, how much
you spend shopping, the groceries you buy and where you buy them. It knows the
deposit balance at your bank, the size of your mortgage, what books you buy
(and where), if you’re late or on time with payments, where you work and how
much you earn. It knows, if it cares to know, where you went yesterday—block by
block and whether you were really ill when you called in for a sick day.
you’re in good hands with Corporate America and they’re pros, not needing
anything so scary as a terrorist threat to set the hook, reel you in and toss
you, flapping, on their deck. Oh and by the way, if you have an Xbox One Kinect™
hooked up to your TV, it sees and hears
your every move with its eye and ear, from within the privacy of your own
home. One might reasonably ask why it demands that ability as a requirement to function.
might ask, but Microsoft has yet to answer. One can only hope it doesn’t choose
to answer directly, through your Xbox One Kinect™.