It was funny, at first.
Well, no. It wasn't. Not really, but we laughed anyway, remember? The bewildered sort of laugh that said to the other person – well, this is mad, isn't it? - and they would laugh back, to signify – yes, it sure is.
Was is a mistake we laughed? I don't know, very probably. We didn't take things seriously.
We still don't.
I remember hearing that some brand of televisions – Sony, I believe, although they're not, by far, the only ones – were recording what went on in your house. You know, sort of like your own private little movie. And you're the star! Brilliant or what?
And I remember thinking 'well, they're surely not the only ones...'. And there you have my confession, I was part of it all. I did not, for one second, think of a way to stop the madness. You could say, I contributed to it.
Chances are, you did too.
I'm afraid our laughter condemned us, my friend.
Only a couple of weeks ago, I was walking home with some friends and somehow the conversation turned to appliances listening in. And one of these friends starts telling us how he was talking to his girlfriend about something. Not googling it, never looked for it online, just taking. He might've just mentioned it to her, in passing. And the next thing he knows, he's seeing ads for it on Facebook.
You're smiling now, 'cause this had probably happened to you, too. Yes, it's happened to most of us.
And we all smile.
We nodded and then shook our heads – mad! – at him, but that was about it. Then, another friend started talking about an article he'd read on surveillance and about how your phones are intruding on your privacy. And we all agreed, because we'd all read some similar article.
Yet, we do nothing. We talk about it, we observe it, but that's about it.
It's a running joke with one of my friends, that our online conversations are probably monitored and we often laugh that the FBI people are probably horrified by the jokes we make. We sometimes even pretend to address them and think it's funny. It's not funny, it's insane.
But there's nothing we can do, or at least, we feel this way – helpless, incapable.
We try to pass it off as funny because it scares us half to death. I often find my phone on the table, with Google turned on, looking like this:
The first time, I thought it was a coincidence. An accident, maybe I pressed it by mistake and it turned on the Google voice thingy. But by the third time this happened, it was a bit hard to believe that it was an accident.
Just last night, my mom, @ladyrebecca, told me 'Remember how we were talking about band shirts, just a bit earlier?'
She was getting ads for rock band shirts on her phone. It was a damned coincidence, don't ya think?
And we allow it to happen.
This is not a post to tell you what bastards the people at the top are for doing this, for spying on us. Nope. We already know that, I expect most of you are aware that our phones and our computers and our TVs and our tablets...they're all just gathering information on us.
AND WE LET THEM!
That's what this is about, not what they do, but what we do. Or rather, what we don't do. We sit and laugh and talk about it and let it all happen, let them invade our homes and private thoughts and wishes.
I've always been a strong believer that we shouldn't blame them. Sure, they're evil and wrong and bastards, all of them. But we allow them to do this, we sell our freedom for cheap thrills.
We deserve it.
We are to blame.
Anonymity sells....but who's buying?
This trail of thought coincided with another issue that was weighing on my mind. See, I'm aware that I'm being spied on, I know Facebook is an evil, blood-sucking machine that's gathering everything it can on us and very probably knows us better than our best friends do.
Same goes for Google. And for many others, but these are the two outlets that I regularly use. And I'm ashamed to say I've taken to regularly posting on Facebook. Stupid things, mostly.
Memes. Often music. I sometimes feel the need to share the songs that are dear to my heart with other people.
And when I get these urges, the following conversation goes on in my head:
'Why do you need to post this?'
'I want to share it with others.'
'Yeah, but don't you know Facebook stores this stuff about you? You're actually, willingly feeding the beast.'
'Yeah...but Facebook is collecting information about me already, without my help, I mean there's nothing I can do about that and posting this one song will hardly make a difference, won't it?'
But that's not an excuse. Seems like an excuse, but it's not.
They're listening to me anyway, so I might as well speak.
Well no, if you do that, you're just aiding and abetting. Sure, the grand surveillance scheme is very well in place, very powerful and you – little, insignificant you – probably wouldn't be able to stop it.
But it's not just you, or in this case, me, thinking like this. It's millions. Maybe even billions. And that's a bit of a different scenario.
But we let this happen and we do it for trivial things, for nothings, in the long run. Can I be honest?
I like it. We all do, we like seeing that little notification that goes 'X has liked your photo', 'Z reacted to your link' etc. We like that. There's a simple logic behind why people post – it makes us feel like we're somebodies, it makes us feel like we have friends who admire us, like we're the center of attention. Very briefly.
Admit it, your images are way cuter and more unique than Amy's. The links you share – some about how the system is screwing us over – mark you out as a smart individual. The people who know you (because the term 'friends' is a bit loose, when it comes to social media) will see that you're clever and interesting and that all sorts of exciting ideas go through your head.
Social media makes you feel wanted. Makes you feel loved.
So, you sign over your freedom and privacy, in exchange for a fleeting sense of stardom.
And yes, they are spying on us. And no, things are probably not going to change if you don't share that selfie or share a link to the latest movie you've enjoyed.
But that's not a reason. That's not logical.
The excuse that 'they're spying on us, anyway' is not an excuse.
Thank you for reading,