Wednesday, 26 October 2011

We are Big Brother.

Who remembers this Apple ad? It's a great ad. Who wouldn't want to be that lady with the hammer, smashing that horrible image on the screen? She saved all the sheep from conformity with the power of the Macintosh computer. What a pioneer!
This ad was released in January of 1984, and bears a striking resemblance to George Orwell's dystopian world that was created in the book "1984". Looking at this ad through a modern lens, I think it's probably the most ironic thing to happen since hipsters.
BUT WHY, YOU ASK!? Because the immense proliferation of smartphones (largely provided thanks to Apple) we are living in a society that's constantly under surveillance.
I recently re-read the book 1984 again, because it is my favorite book of all. Read it now! Don't have a library card? Get one! Or read it here. After finishing the last great sentence and exiting the display window, I had come to the conclusion that WE ARE BIG BROTHER, BIG BROTHER IS US.
Subtlety was not his strong suit.
In Orwell’s dystopian future/present, the world is full of “telescreens” that are constantly watching what the citizens are up to. There is no way of turning them off. The info that the telescreens collect is used to“vaporize” citizens if they transgress any of the Party's doctrines. Essentially, they are wiped out and never to be spoken of again.
In a totally diluted way, a "telescreen" kind of mirrors how I feel about the new Iphone upgrade. My smartphone now has a new feature for text messaging that enables the sender to see exactly what time the reader saw their text. Though it can be disabled, I think this is taking things way too far.
(Also it will obviously spur a hundred million teenage bfsgf fights, probably containing a text like: “OMG U DIDN’T WRITE LOL BACK! U SAW MY TXT!)
Then I got to thinking – in our society we have an unrelenting need to catalogue what we’re doing, exactly when we’re doing it. I had an experience a while back where someone on my Facebook feed “checked me in” to a place I was at when I was there. It made me super uneasy that this power was out of my hands and in the hands of someone else.
But also that this kind of thing is considered normalized. What would our dear old Marshall MMcLuhan think of this madness. Where is this information going? Who (or what) cares where I am? And why?
I can’t help but think of Big Bro. He's all-knowing, so he’s like the internet. He's also omnipresent, just like our pockets full of smartphones. We can add things to the internet as they’re happening, and therefore Big Bro/Internet has a constant stream of what’s going on in every connected person’s life.
I can’t help but wonder through all of this who exactly is benefitting from knowing where I am at all times? Is it strictly used by advertisers and marketers? There is probably wayyy too much information available for any advertising firm to handle. Could the FBI or CSIS be using it too? Or is that venturing into the realm of conspiracy theory?
iPhones are not hiding from us the fact that they are constantly tracking where you go. The “Use My Location” feature (which can also be disabled) pops up even when you do anything including playing a cheap game. A new app that was promped with my upgrade called “Find My Friends” enables the user to do just that – find their friends' phones through a GPS tracking system. WTF APPLE!?!!
Computers are just a pieces of technology, but there is no doubt about the huge impact they've had on our society. Blogs are the new journals, Facebook is the new resume, and when was the last time you got a picture developed?
Anyone can take a picture or video of you when you go out in public and post it on the net. There are countless examples in which this has led to arrests (like in the Vancouver Riots) divorces (link) and who knows what else.
All that being said,
I’ll be sure to link this article on my FB page and my Twitter feed.

No comments:

Post a Comment