There is much talk these days, of people (I assume, the government) using a spyware from Israel, called Pegasus, to spy on the WhatsApp messages of people in the Opposition. Damn. How many of you have read “1984”
My good friend Hira Singh, who comes from a slightly traditional school of thought, has his furrows creased in worry. So deep are the worry lines that the ridges on his forehead look like ravines cut through a mountain range.
The Old Days
In the old days, he felt, people did not depend on electronic media for communication. People wrote letters, which could be intercepted of-course, they spoke to each other and the pace of life was slower. They did not have gadgets to look into. It seems, he feels, that we are increasingly outsourcing our brains to machines, and with this, we are becoming impersonal. We are also opening up our lives for surveillance machines to take over.
Why, he asked me, do we need to worry about Pegasus? Privacy, I sputtered. But then, he countered, we allow it on a daily basis without thought. Cookies once, were eaten, he reminded me. Today, a cookie tracks your online movement. Google follows your mails, and suggests that it is time to follow up on a mail you sent three days earlier. Amazon throws suggestions at you on what to buy. Facebook suggests the news you should watch.
So why worry about Pegasus, he asked? If the government wants to snoop, it will. If Nike, Google, Facebook, Amazon or any other firm want to snoop, they will. Each has an objective. The government wants to stay in power. Commercial companies want to separate you from your money.
In The End
In the end, he said, they all want to separate you from your mind. Yes, the internet and all things digital have allowed you to make friend with, and collaborate with, people across the world. Yet, unchecked, they separate you from those who remain physically close to you, if you allow it. It allows you to search information, and makes you think you are an expert. It opens you up to stimuli, but you must choose how you respond.
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
THAT IS SOMETHING YOU MUST DECIDE.