Technology is all around us. It started off simple; the internet didn’t even exist until 1983. As someone who is in the odd place between Gen Z and Millenials, I have had the unique opportunity to watch technology grow up with me. When I was a child, we really didn’t have smartphones around and the ones that were touch screens did not connect to the internet. In the year 2000, phones began to connect to the internet through 3G but many of the “smartphones” were not even touch screens. I remember getting in trouble at church for being on Yahoo Instant Messenger on some phone that slid up to reveal the keyboard. The internet, and technology in general, has come a very long way in the last 20 years. The question is, has it come too far?
1984 and beyond
In the novel, 1984, London is controlled by the Ruling Party. The Ruling Party controls everything from speech and language to free thought and self expression. The Ruling Party has placed video monitoring systems in homes and watches every person’s every move. They always tell people, Big Tech… Excuse me, Big Brother is watching them. In modern times we have Alexa and Siri who are always listening and sometimes even pick things up they aren’t supposed to be privy to. The government says they respect our privacy but it is well known they have the technology to listen to really any electronic device. We have cameras on everything from doorbells to refrigerators now. This makes it extremely easy for anyone, especially the government, to look into our everyday lives, given they have the right technology to do so. In the novel, even rebellious thoughts are illegal, which feels eerily similar to the restrictions social media has been imposing on the people who use their platforms. Currently Donald Trump has been banned from many social media sites. Some sites even banned the FORMER PRESIDENT from ever having an account again. How can they banish someone who was one of our leaders? What happened to free speech?
Big Tech Takes Over
Banning Donald shows how easy it is for Big Tech companies to control the rulers of our nation. If people are controlled by fear on social media then they can’t show the public their true self and allow us to make our own assumptions. If everyone is filtering what they have to say based on impossible community guidelines, how will we deduce which people are genuinely good leaders or not? How do we truly know when a post is something that person truly feels or if it is only a partial thought because the rest of the thought would not meet community guidelines? Rulers should not be afraid that if they express true feelings and thoughts they will be “cancelled” and permanently banned from social media. Social media, our devices, and search engines already track our every move on and off the screen.
Why should they be allowed to tell us how to think and feel? Other than censoring our every move Big Tech companies watch them all, too. Phones with location turned off are still able to trace every move made via the connection to a data network. Anything you search on google, amazon, or safari shows up in other apps as ads. Sometimes you can just mention something for an obscure topic you never speak about and an ad will show up on social media. Is this the result of perfect subliminal messaging? Does our brain take in ads we don’t notice? Do those ads plants seeds for ideas, or are we actually being listened to and watched in our everyday lives? In recent weeks I have seen ads for things I only spoke about in passing conversations such as sugar free honey, DIY barn door kits, and cat trees shaped like trees. None of my previous search history should cause these ads to be targeted at me, which we all know is how ads work today.
The only logical answer is Big Tech and Social media are watching our every move. The best way to combat this is to never have your location on unless you have to, use search engines that don’t track your history, and don’t set up voice recognition on your phone. These actions won’t completely cut your traceability but they will make you just a little harder to find out there in the interwebs.
Written by: Erinn Malloy