The Dispatches of Hira Singh: Orwell is alive & well

Hira Singh

Orwell

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.

Privacy

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…. Pegasus?

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.

8 Comments

  1. Great narrative and questions. The absent holiday cards being replaced by a text or two is saddening. Yet, I come from a time when phone contact was limited due to cost so to be able to text, phone, or email seems support ongoing relationships. How did family members endure the emptiness during migrations in the 1800 century? Be

    I believe that the FBI has a history of tracking people they identified as a threat…color of skin, length of hair, social action groups, speech…today it just seems we are all tracked…even as we shop or walk through neighborhoods.

    I appreciate the expansion of connection with others world wide…I’m in awe of the diversity of people in Zoom meetings and the ability to attend meeting Thay I would not be able to otherwise.

    Yet, the ads of less that quality merchandise perplexes me, especially when they appear on sites I view as valuable; NPR. New York Times…I feel manipulated to know that computer programs may know me more than I know myself.

    I think the computer has allowed a showing of humanity’s good and dark…there is a lot of dark…lots.

    I guess I had lots to say…..

    1. Yep. I hear you. I used to stick postage stamps and lick envelopes to seal them. We had to ‘book’ a long distance call, and it would take hours to come through.

      But then, I would write long letters, and receive them. Now, I am told that emails should be short!

      But yeah, the advantages are there. So are the chances of being manipulated. And, they are increasing

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