Friday, August 17, 2018

This is Wessay #1984, a number of great fame and a book of great perceptiveness.  George Orwell predicted in his novel that we would all be on camera all the time. And on microphone.

The book was ahead of its time and the year was behind its time. But we’re here.  The digital revolution has made many of Orwell’s frightening predictions come true.

Most of the time, we know we’re being watched.  It’s unpleasant.  But most of us have the sense to withhold untoward in acts while sitting in the parking lot of a 7-11 or going into one with a drawn gun.  It’s the ones we don’t know about that are scary.

A whole generation of young people has learned to wear hoodies or at least baseball caps with the bill pointed down and no visible writing.  Huge sunglasses are all the rage.  As are high and turned up collars.

That helps in the parking lot and at the register. (Wear gloves so the shaky-cam can’t tell anything about your skin color.)

The phone companies know who calls whom, when and for how long.  Your text messages live forever… somewhere. Your prints are on file even if you have no police record, and chances are, so is your DNA.

It’s okay.  This is the land of the free and the home of the brave, right?  Sure it is. And if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. (This one red-lines the BS detector.)

To some, privacy is sacred.  To some, privacy is treasured. To some, privacy is guaranteed.  Nope. Nope.  And nope.

Your credit/debit cards? Your E-Z Pass.  The tracking device you carry around disguised as a smartphone?  They all watch.  And listen. And keep notes. Detailed notes.

Two of Orwell’s characters think they’ve beaten the system.  They get a room in a rundown old place to have their affair.  Guess what?  

In olden days, if you should venture into the Soviet Union, your travel agent told you not to speak near table lamps or statuettes.  Or the mounted heads of wild boars or brown bears. 

Primitive stuff by today’s standards, but the warnings were worth heeding, especially if you said something nasty about your hotel room or their dictator of the moment.

You’ve heard people here talking about “getting off the grid.”  The grid has no “off.” They found the Unabomber in a doublewide outhouse in the middle of the woods of Montana.  They can find you, too.

Body cams, dash cams, nanny cams, traffic cams.  Soon they’ll need cameras to watch other cameras. Those Big Brother devices aren’t cheap.  And the quality of the picture is improving all the time. Imagine Willie Sutton in HD.  (HD is practically old fashioned nowadays. Some security guy in Best Buy probably watched you try to boost that computer mouse on a 70-inch 4K UHD set in the back room fed by a drone camera the size of a caraway seed that hovers silently 8 feet above the floor and is pointed down.

The only hope is that there are so many pictures, videos, audio tapes and such that Big Brother won’t have the time to catalogue all of it… and certainly no time to watch it all.

And let’s not get started about keystroke monitors.

--Steve Bannon is about to release a pro trump propaganda film. It will show how most of the rest of us are ganging up on the poor beleaguered president and his galley slaves in Congress.  Someone should make some red baseball caps that say “Make Steve Relevant Again,” which is the real purpose of the film.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

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