Own your Data

‘We live in a very complicated world these days,’ I said. ‘Clare and I watched a Netflix documentary the other night: ‘The Great Hack’, about Cambridge Analytica and their manipulation of personal data to influence the last US election and Brexit amongst others. It turns out that Facebook, whose aim was to bring people together through connectivity is actually driving people apart. The conclusion was that fair elections or referendums are an anachronism and a thing of the past.’

‘Just another reason to get off Facebook and social media,’ Camp said.

‘We need to give each other a fair chance. We need to have more patience and cannot go around judging people and events after a ten second encounter or a manufactured news clip. We scan news, headlines, tweets and posts without any depth or background and we’re quick to judge on first impressions. We need to start talking and listening to each other again.’

Camp picked up the ball and ran with it. ‘We will eventually get over this and people, maybe the next generation, will get a handle on instant communication and learn how to use social media as an information and connection tool rather than a site for mundane and superficial commentary and gossip, making everybody into a mini-spy. Personal interrelationships will triumph once again, in time, because that’s all we’ve got when the power goes off and the internet signal has faded and the battery is dead. We have become much too dependent on electronic gadgets and instant connectivity and to top it all off – according to your documentary – through it all our personal data is harvested, sold and disseminated without us – the rightful owners of our data – having any say in it. This is the brave new world but it will run its course, I predict.’

‘Meanwhile we’ll have to get through another presidential election where everybody promises the impossible and nobody tells the truth. The fact alone, that Trump might even win again is scary enough. The Trump campaign blasted out 5.9 million ads on social media while the Clinton team sent out only sixty-six thousand.’

‘Who needs the Russians?’ Camp said, shaking his head. ‘It would be best for all if somebody somehow could sabotage all electronic radiation.’

‘There was such a sci-fi scenario in the seventies or eighties. It was called The Pulse. A midair atomic blast that would obliterate all electronic data with a 500 km range and  drop us instantly back into the stone age.’

‘Death by disconnection and isolation,’ Camp said. ‘At least Twitter now has renounced all political ads in stark contrast to  Facebook.’

Just then Vicky replaced our empties with two full ones and I had to ask: ‘Vicky, how would you feel if your phone and computer suddenly went dead?’

‘What are you two up to now? The apocalypse? Armageddon? If my phone went dead, I would probably freak out and have a nervous breakdown.’

‘It’s only a gadget,’ I said.

‘It’s how I talk, shop, pay my bills, find out stuff, take pictures, connect with my friends and without Google I’d be lost.’

‘Just kidding Vicky, nobody will kill your phone.’

‘You two need to get out more often,’ she said.

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