Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Goodbye Privacy; We Hardly Knew Ye

(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)

Recently, internet overlord google announced that its going to allow a lucky few the privilege of paying fifteen hundred dollars to be able to get their hands on a pair of google glasses, as long as they write a fifty word essay - encapsulating their desperation for owning something no one else has - in fancy jargon. That’s because a new device isn’t “in demand” or “cutting edge” enough unless it’s creators treat potential customers like an abusive spouse treats their victim. You’ll never be good enough, y’hear? I don’t know what’s worse: that there are people willing to debase themselves to receive the momentary validation of owning the next big thing or that a fifty word paragraph is now considered an essay? Somewhere in hell, my third grade English teacher is shaking her head in horrid disapproval. (I assume that she’s in hell because she never returned any pen she ‘borrowed’ and dead because she’s not on Facebook). 

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about because you get all your tech news from that studious cousin who helped create your email account, google glasses are like normal glasses except they can do everything your smartphone can do. Like make calls, reply to instant messages and tweet sepia-toned pictures of your food. In a few years, all those douchebags who have loud conversations in public because they insist on wearing a bluetooth headset everywhere they go will be replaced by assholes shouting things at their glasses because the damn thing won’t understand their fake accent 

I bet everyone is looking forward to using another device which you can buy but not own because for you to be able to use it to its full potential you need to provide its manufacturer with your personal information. What other choice do we have, really? Not use a device? Pffft! Send an ‘inland letter’ instead of an email? Too slow! Learn to write on paper? Whatever, grandpa. If you can’t trust a huge corporation bent upon monetizing every moment of your existence then who can you trust?

Not wanting to be left behind, our governments are also coming up with new ways to keep tabs on the public. For example,  one of the world’s largest defence contractor in conjunction with the US government has developed a new software that can gather and analyze all the information about a target from every social networking website in a matter of minutes. The software is sophisticated enough to help its user(s) gather detailed information about the person they’re spying on. They can know who their target’s friends are, the places they frequent, photographic evidence which places them at a particular spot at a specific point of time and the amount of sugar they like in their coffee. But that’s okay, because they’re only going to make us safer, aren’t they? It’s not like they will misuse their access! When has anyone in government ever used their position for their personal benefit? You worry too much!

If we were living in an 80’s dystopian movie, this would be the point at which Arnold Schwarzenegger would finally discover what was really going on and would have to kill a large number of people and destroy a couple of big warehouses to save the world from the Orwellian hell it had wrought upon itself.

We teach our young not to talk to strangers on the street but don’t even think twice about giving up our personal information to someone on the internet. Networks get hacked; storage devices get lost and every embarrassing photograph is ‘two degrees’ away from being turned into a meme.

And google glasses make it easier to invade another person’s privacy. Now you don’t even need to tell anyone that your glasses are instantly broadcasting everything to the internet. Who needs permission when you can share pictures of that weird couple by the bar with ten thousand of your closest friends?

In the future, everyone will have their fifteen minutes of being mocked by the internet. One day you crash a party full off college kids and someone takes a picture of you trying to recapture the glory of your younger days by butt chugging a keg of beer and instantly uploads it to Facebook where a large number of websites pick it up and every low-life on the internet tries to make themselves famous at your expense.  By the next morning, you lose your job because you told your boss that you had to leave work early to visit your sick grandmother, your girlfriend breaks up with you because no one wants to associate with a global laughing stock and the police arrest you for lewd public behaviour while every sanctimonious anchor on teevee tut-tuts at your plight.

Now please excuse me as a large man with a pronounced Austrian accent who broke down my door just told me to get to the chopper.

No comments: