Discourse: in freedom, vigilance

In light of the recent Cambridge Analytica and Facebook case, my head is filled with a lot of thoughts, dear reader, that give me pause. The first one being: do we really need to watch Black Mirror show, or can we just turn on the news? Then comes annoyance: do I really have to delete my own Facebook now, or can I just weigh pros and cons and just keep it? Lastly comes the most annoying, self-gratifying, yet also accurate thought: I told you so.

I have told you so, in fact, in previous post about humanism, freedom and individual responsibilities that come with living free. Vigilance, in every aspect of life, is quintessential (was quintessential) from this day forward, this time with proof of what unassuming, emotionally charged, uninformed and scared mind can do: panic in the face of false information. Panic in the face of fear mongering without questioning the realities behind the presented information. Without checking sources.

Was Facebook wrong about selling user data without permission? Yes! Was Facebook wrong for not making sure the data mining model was deleted? Yes. Is Cambridge Analytica and companies like it have illegal practices? Perhaps. There isn’t a legal framework for a lot of what they do, yet it works better hushed than open. Is it all macabre, cynical and morally wrong to manipulate public opinion by exacerbating fears of individuals via personalised advertising and altered or false truth? Absolutely.

But does it occur to anyone at all that it is, in fact, the responsibilities of the individual ALSO to check every bit of suspicious information that comes their way? I’ve written it before: we are responsible for our own happiness, our own thinking and our own actions. Everyone around you, dear reader, is going to act in their own interest, to smaller or larger degree and this data security case is no exception. These are companies, acting in their own interest to turn profit. There isn’t a large conspiracy theory, there is no one planning to take over the world. These are just individuals, buying and selling services that can help them achieve their happiness, this time in exchange for fear. Whether or not they align with other people’s well being is entirely another matter. Should they be held accountable? Yes, perhaps, in time, they will.

However, in this dark period of truth that is hard to swallow, let us remember: in freedom, vigilance. Always, vigilance. It gets tiring, it gets frustrating, sometimes it seems meaningless, but vigilance of the mind is the only way keep your individual freedom intact, dear reader. So don’t be lazy, read that 2-page article on advice how to keep your Facebook and other social media setting to maximum security. REMEMBER your passwords, don’t just leave logins lying around, take interest in news and learn to separate cold facts from issues made deliberately hot.

The hard truth is, dear reader, that at least I do want to live in the future where technology helps us, to live longer, happier, more meaningful lives. Yet work is required to achieve it. Cambridge Analytica isn’t going away anywhere. It’s involved in more levels than Channel 4 uncovered, I’m sure. Please note how European far-right has stopped issuing public statements altogether in regards to this and how POTUS hasn’t Tweeted in a while. Their silence is more telling than words, because silence at this point is an action of collectively clenching and hoping this will blow over. Just a food for thought.

The only real way of doing away with CA, Facebook and fear mongering is to continue living our lives annoyingly happily, deal with problems that arise, call out bullshit when we see it and to stay informed, so we would never be caught off guard.

In freedom, vigilance.


Picture credit: https://gratisography.com/ 

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