Friday, August 14, 2009

majest1k_w0n, the future, pt. 2, 421 words

Over a billion different personal enlightenments making their unique experiences into mundanity. The private worlds of nearly a quarter of the planet compressed and summarized in blog posts, profile pages, snippets of 140 characters at a time. A shared media experience so pervasive that a good half of the people reading this are waiting for the Fight Club quote, code words for the manufactured disaffection of Generations X, Y, and Z.

Here, I'll get it out of the way now. Just for you– actually, no, I won't. Screw the code words. I'm not Tyler Durden, and I'm not going to steal the words of a movie to make my point.

So that covers the futures that we were offered and that we have. What of the one we're making? Frankly, it's just as bad as the one we've got, if not worse.

You know that stuff about everyone indulging in the same shared media experiences and summarizing themselves? Let me tell you, this is only the beginning. This is a nail in the coffin for individuality and privacy, and we're putting it there ourselves.

See, for most of this first decade of the 21st Century, lots of people were worried about all kinds of problems relating to surveillance and civil rights. The government's trying to watch us, it wants to track us, it wants into our mail and political speech and everything so it can mark the dissidents and disenfranchise opponents. Big, big concerns.

At the same time, a lot of these people have joined up with websites like MySpace, Facebook, and other social networking stuff. They got accounts on Amazon.com and iTunes, eBay and Paypal. They fill out profiles on the social networking sites describing their educations, work histories, interests, desires, sexualities, political affiliations, religions, buying histories... What we haven't tagged out in one or two words gets put into blogs and Twitter feeds, every thought compressed into a snippet for ease of digestion. Every idea and trait simplified and boiled down into bland, easily comprehensible little bits of text.

We don't want the government to know what we're doing, but we then go on to tell everyone, especially large companies, just that. We tell Amazon and Netflix what we've read and watched and played and own so they can provide recommendations to us. So they can build consumer profiles on us. And then we use the same screen names, the same e-mail addresses, the same passwords everywhere we go. And our IP addresses stamped on every site we visit.

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