A new era and a new war. The world right now in the early 21st century is enduring a time of revolution and change. In a free flowing era of information technology, where everything seems open has smacked society with the truth: the rules of the game have changed. Governments want to seize information, monitor it, control it, because of the perceived threats it fears. Entire nations have refined the rules of what espionage is not only is it just targeting diplomats and government officials, but also the common citizen especially since accessing the normal lives of everyday citizens is even easier than it has been before in human history. Many people already knew or had a strong inkling but when it is slapped in your face as it was with the NSA and Snowden(if you haven’t been checking the news you should be). It becomes very apparent of what I have said before that privacy as we know it is dead. When we wish to interact with people through the cell phone, email, or video within that moment privacy is dead, but it was also dead when we wrote letters and telegrams. Spies and others often would intercept these messages, but it was not as invasive as it is now. Privacy ends when you are listening without permission on a private conversation, or when you are secretly watching someone in their own privacy either in person or by the use of technologies such as hidden cameras. Privacy is an illusion unless you are truly isolated. I sometimes wonder if people truly understand how limited freedom actually is. For instance you can take your own life at any moment, but you can also you get sick and die I am pretty sure not many people living today desire such a fate. An earthquake can destroy an entire city, at the moment we can’t control those types of events so there is no choice on our part. We often place choice with freedom. We can choose to buy certain products, we can choose which street to turn on, we can choose what mate we can to reproduce with, and various others examples of “choice.” As I mentioned before choice is not as “free” as we like to make it. Yes we can pick what novel to read, or what movie to watch, but we didn’t pick our parents, genetic code, or country of birth. All huge factors of our experience and quality of life. If you are born poor in India you will live a very different life, and perhaps an even shorter one compared to a rich person living in France. Yet a healthy African child can live longer than a cancer ridden baby in the United Kingdom. It is chance? Luck? or Destiny? This often goes into deep philosophical debates on the matter and also the human yearning to make the world a more equal place so that where you are born should not determine major aspects of your life.
Let’s go back to privacy and how information technology has changed the landscape. People who have access to information technology have access to massive information and create millions of different online communities where common interest and not geographical location plays more of a factor. People can build friendships across entire continents with only the language barrier stopping them. Yet it is this double edge sword that people are finally realizing. Society relies on common infrastructure and corporations to provide these services but they also have access to this information. Information that can statistically predict what products you will buy what websites you visit and what communities you are a part of. From the massive data society is outputting every single probable future that can be determined. A scary thought indeed thus the question remains how can a person be free and have choices when algorithms can determine what choices and places we will search next. It becomes apparent that we are not as truly free as we would like to believe. What I am trying to get across is that by merely saying “stop NSA” and “stop corporations” will not stop the changes that are occurring today. Someone will naturally yearn for power and today information is power. The illusion of freedom is so profound for if everyone is truly free would they not marry whoever they wished, be rich, good-looking, and powerful? I think many would but for those of us who understand such dangers we would reject such notions no matter how tempting it would be. Freedom is an ideal, and much of it is a human construct. We can choose to encrypt all personal data, or unplug ourselves from our technology, but now an entire generation especially those age 35 and under don’t think this is such an option. What this piece is attempting to do is to challenge what you think of freedom and liberty. Ask yourself what is freedom to you and how truly free are you? Going through this journey is important and I think one realizes that freedom is not as absolute as we would like to believe. There is choice but if choice is limited than how can that be freedom? The paradox continues.
Side Note: I recommend if you haven’t watched it to see it. PirateBay documentary