How Sloth Kills Personal Freedom
Take a look at the picture to your left, please.
The cartoon mirrors a trend in western society: We tend to confide too much in technology while there is good reason to be more suspicious than ever.
Let me tell you about how convenience eats away on what we call a free society.
It's no secret that people love being lazy and have others do the job.
When it comes to the worldwide web and its associated services, there is a monster luring in the dark, preying on us on a daily basis. It's called Big Data, and its growing kingdom is that of Surveillance Capitalism.
Whenever you surf the net you leave digital traces.
Clever companies use artificial intelligence to automatically analyze and systematically extract information from your online behavior and cast it into solid profiles made to predict your future actions, and eventually know what your future life will look like, before you do!
Does that sound intimidating to you? Well, bear with me and I’ll tell you why it should.
The biggest mistake you can make is to say I’m not into illegal stuff, they can have my data, what the heck!
Because then you refuse to see that you are literally throwing away big chunks of very intimate information. Your online behaviour actively reveals your innermost wishes and secrets to a network of machines. And holy moly, do those machines care to know more about you! They’re equipped with self-learning algorithms, programmed to dissect your personality quicker and better than your shrink. The more you feed them, the sooner they get to know you more intimately than your best friend, even better than your partner.
Curiosity kills the cat, and sloth kills democracy.
Think about it. When very few privileged people possess the ultimate knowledge about people's hopes, concerns and desires, how does that reflect on our society? Is that still a democratic system run by the will of the people, or is it a twisted form of majority rule, where actually the minority holds the reigns firmly in their hands?
You may say, hey, isn’t this exactly how our economy works?, and I’ll say, yep, sadly there’s little democracy in our current version of economy.
Sloth will make things worse!
So how do we counteract this process of undemocratizing this planet? How is it possible at all for the individual to do anything that truly makes a difference? Well, there is no such thing as THE idea, or THE ultimate act that will turn things around.
Big things always start out as a somewhat undefined yearning for change. The first action to take is always the same: You stand up and speak your mind aloud. Like I don’t like the way things are run around here, or I'm OK to be a consumer, but I don’t want to be a product myself. You’ll no doubt realize that change is in the decisions and actions you take as an individual, not in waiting for others to come up with something.
So there you go, start with yourself. Admit it to your reflection in the mirror whenever your weaker self is about to get the better of you. Freedom is an attitude. Freedom requires activeness, it needs active decisions to remain intact. Sloth kills freedom.
Remember this the next time you think about using a virtual assistant like Alexa and Siri, or subscribing to a service run by a monopolist like Facebook or Google.
There ARE alternatives, and you CAN take measures to shut them out. (also see sidebar: "How do I shut out digital spies?")
Politically speaking the picture is clear: We don’t want to be ruled by a few economic giants with politicians serving as their minions, doing their bidding. In our society we the people rule!
Let's make sure this is still true for the generations to come.