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Warning: this is a humorous post. Not suitable for the faints of heart.
I was delighted when I got my first mobile phone that could take pictures. My friends and I would send out-of-focus photos to each other, detailing the blurry minutiae of our lives and racking up massive phone bills in the process.
Nowadays every phone has a world-class camera, voice recorder, GPS, and it’s no longer just for us to use so we can send our friend a pic of the outfit we are thinking of wearing out tonight.
No, now it’s for us to be tracked.
Every picture we take, every phone call we make, Facebook is watching…. each click, keystroke, and embarrassing google search are being recorded, analysed and commodified.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not in any way tech savvy. I am not so much a technophobe, more stunningly incompetent. I have never owned an Apple-anything (which an 18-year-old acquaintance informs me is totes embarrassing), the # on my keyboard doesn’t work so I have to google it and copy and paste it every time I need to let the world know how #blessed I am (today two chocolate bars came out of the vending machine at once #blessed) and until recently I thought a cookie was a delicious treat. Little did I know they are actually insidiously gathering my data so that someone in the world knows I have already visited the Goop website 89 times this month (I’m only looking at it in an ironic way I swear).
This Cambridge Analytica scandal has been a wakeup call to me. It’s beyond ironic that Zuckerberg, who was famously pictured with the in-built camera in his computer covered up, should be the one caught out.
Now that I’m on the ball, I know that it goes beyond targeted advertising to the NSA monitoring my phone calls (I’m sure they are really interested listening in on my husband calling me to update me on what cute things our dogs have done today) and companies potentially manipulating my political vote (did they also trying to sway my voting on I’m A Celeb Get Me Out Of Here? Cos that is NOT cool).
You could be one of the increasing numbers of people who eschew the digital life and instead go off the grid. Build a tiny house in the mountains, wear check shirts, live off the land and grow a beard. Although I’m not sure if I’m describing a Luddite or a hipster.
But the majority of people are living 100% of their lives online and the internet and all its accouterments have made life damn convenient.
Of course, I’m slightly perturbed that companies are collecting my personal information, but is that actually going to stop me from taking the latest Buzzfeed quiz to find out what flavour ice-cream I am? No (and the answer is cookie dough).
To be honest, it’s not the thought of companies mining my personal data, trying to influence me in the voting booth, or sway me into buying yet more disposal fashion that I don’t need since I only wear the same leggings and t-shirt every day (seriously, that must be some kind of mind control thing, right?) that haunts me the most. It’s the fear that someone, somewhere is looking (and laughing hysterically) at my embarrassing browser history. It’s not even the disgusting medical conditions that I am always googling (not for myself… for a friend) that haunt me the most, it’s the fact that I constantly have to google the answer to basic everyday questions to keep up my façade of being an adult.
A casual scroll through my browser history might reveal questions such as ‘how do I get tomato sauce stains out of my underwear’, ‘how to do the worm’ or ‘are Dwayne Johnson and The Rock related’. In fact, the evidence abounds that I should not be left to my own devices or around sharp objects.
Should we be afraid? Yes, we should, with big brother watching our every move, we are not just being manipulated and having our privacy invaded but we risk of our very innermost thoughts laid bare. And nobody wants that.