Now I will be the first to admit that I have a dim view of where civilisation is heading, built on my peculiar interpretation of society and technology.
I’m not sure, but I may be one of the last, or at least penultimate, generation to reach my teens without a computer in sight or awareness. A telephone was a bloody great thing with a dial on the front that parents could lock like a bicycle wheel. Television was a chunky box in the corner of the room that ate conversations and gave back bland middle-class programmes with just the right amount of risqué to offend the highly amoral and titillate the rest. As I blundered into my teens, the rise of LCD TV (that’s Lowest Common Denominator, not Liquid Crystal Display) had started. Programmes to cater to the easiest laugh, the simplest puzzle, that very special childish humour designed for repressed adults. Which most of the viewing audience had become. – Yes, I know that I am being broad-brush unfair to some utter classics. But they were exceptions.
Fast forward through the first true media war (VHS versus Betamax) and it’s sequels to a tomorrow not far removed:
I receive a phone call. So I tap the side of my kettle and a video window opens on the kitchen cupboard. It’s a virtual person from the JobCentre asking me why I have not reported for my monthly review. I explain that I got some work at short notice. Virtual person pauses, then says that they see no record of a payment into my credit account. I reply that the work was cash in hand, and that I have a receipt chit. They ask for the chit and I go and get it and slap it face down on the window, where the smartglass scans it. A few moments later the virtual person informs me that the receipt does not tie in with my FaceNet usage and call profile, so they are disallowing it. My TV channels will be restricted to news and education for the next month, my bulletin board and forum access is embargoed and they will add the penalty payment to my credit balance.
It’s a drastic example, but I hope you see what I’m getting at (and the example is only imagined legal usage of data; illegal usages in that future? Scary). Integration of your online leisure sources with your real-world living is progressing apace, and being soft-sold as socially desirable. I do not believe that it is all for your convenience. Profit motives aside, why institute surveillance on a society that routinely details it’s every move and location for their ‘friends’ to see?
Yes, of course I take the dimmest view. (Actually, given some stuff I’m seeing from American paranoiacs, I’m positively optimistic.) But the bottom line I recommend is not that you stop. Please just pay attention to what you do, say and post online anywhere. Because if it’s online, you should regard it as all being in a big, big bin full of everything else you put out there. There is less and less separation and it is surprising what can be discovered about someone from just matching up their posts on one forum and one social media site. I am damn sure we all probably use more than two places to do our leisure, shopping and work socialising.
This is a new jungle, kids. With predators that may not kill you but they can still do a lot of damage to the things you love and like, if not to you. Some of the predators have even convinced you that it’s for your own good.
Travel with light footsteps on- and off- line. Never stop having fun and let no-one decide for you what ‘politically acceptable’ fun will be.