Act like Adults: The Answer to Digital Danger to Democracy


Great article in The World Post today, underlining the many developing dangers to democracy, in the US and around the world, posed by the power inherent in consumer and state digital manipulation of media.

One of the interesting byproducts of the consequential discussion is that about regulation. The allegedly e-savvy former President of Estonia calls for the regulation of social media, much as railroads, water companies and power companies, monopolies in their day, were regulated a century ago.

By the same token, one could look to the likes of the European Union to introduce anti-trust measures, to prevent abuse by monopoly.

A fascinating characteristic of the debate is that it is the idealistic young who today are at the forefront of those demanding freedom on the internet, yelling a curse on all regulation and interference – normally the war-cry of the traditional right. Further evidence of the breakdown of old-fashioned political definitions.

One of my three primary themes at the moment is the danger that ‘consumer’ digital abuse represents to democracy. I wrote about it a short whole ago. Proving once again that this old fuddy-dud ain’t completely behind the 8-ball.

Anyways. Moving right along. I see the threat divided into three stages: (1) ‘Folks’ (be they consumer organizations, government agencies, whatever) gathering data about people, voluntarily or involuntarily; (2) Targeting individuals with information designed to make them do something, on the basis that the information being distributed is honest; and (3) Targeting, but with information that is deliberately fake, usually in a political context.

Frankly, we live in an age in which, when you plug in, you are being monitored and targeted by someone. Perhaps even if you are not plugged in. In an age in which, when you go to take a dump, someone can see what you are doing, in various shades of microwave, infrared and ultra-violet.

We can spend a lot of time considering massively intrusive methods of regulation of the monitors and targeteers. Almost all of them undertaken by governments in which we lost confidence a long time ago. Or are currently losing confidence, as they come under the control of the likes of Donald Trump. Not my preferred choice.

Or. We stop blaming everyone else for what we read, what we believe, what we buy. Grow up. And start taking responsibility for ourselves. By the numbers.

In this day and age. People gather information on people. Don’t like it? Stop filling in those questionnaires. Stop offering information when you decide to buy something on Amazon. Do you think these folks are asking you what color you like because they want to target you with sky blue pillow cases? They’re building a bloody profile, idiot. Which they then sell to someone else. Or which gets hacked by Trump, or China or Putin. Wake up.

Is there anything we can really do about entities like Trump, China and Putin getting our information dishonestly? Well. You mean besides not putting the info out there? Like. Writing an article online saying you’re going to shoot Trump next Wednesday, at the Goober Mall, in Wichita, Colorado. Um. No.

You can vote to give humungous amounts of power to the NSA to try to block the hacking. But frankly, I don’t like the NSA. And I’d rather not. Better to be alert to the fact that folks will be targeting me. And I need to be choosy about what I read and believe.

And that really covers (2). Be frigging choosy. Use your brain. It’s like having a British accent. People think I’m honest. Stop believing something just because it pops up in neon pink on your computer or smartphone.

Next up. Folks complain about online shopping. Now, that one is like WalMart. Whaa. Boo-hoo. That nice little store, with the old lady, who sold gingham dresses to my grandma and mama. Who was going to make my prom dress. And work at it until it fit just right. Who started from scratch all over again. When Poppsie didn’t like her prom dress a year back. That lady is no longer there. Whaa.

You now why she’s no longer there? It’s not because WalMart are big and bad and brutal. It’s because Poppsie’s mother and your neighbor’s dad slipped out in the middle of the night, to go shopping at WalMart, ‘cos their Dr. Peppers was a few cents cheaper. And those midnight flits to WalMart put the old lady, and others like her, out of business.

Grow up. Take responsibility. Because the reason online shopping is putting malls out of business is because you miserable bastards can’t be bothered to get off your ass to go out and support the little guy and gal who go the extra mile to dell you something you really like.

For myself, I always tell people to buy something from a person. That way you have someone you can go back to and say, hey, this didn’t work. Please fix it. Or I’ll break your tail-lights. Or maybe something a little less violent.

But you made your choices. And now the online consumer companies are shutting down the malls. And rendering you susceptible to companies selling you crap that is the wrong size, the wrong color, the wrong everything. And who then send you to an Indian telephone customer service rep when you want to complain.

This is also why you get targeted the whole time. You choose to shop online. You put the physical shops out of business. The online outlets request information. You provide. Like sheep. They target you. But. You can decide what you give and what you get. Up to you.

But. But. What about the folks who target us with stuff that is blatantly dishonest? Oh. You mean, like CNN?

Look. We live in a nation (the US) where the President’s advisers and friends are on a mission (among others) to distort the view of the general population about the news they can trust. And replace that news with ‘alternative facts,’ generally to be found on alternative web-sites like Breitbart, or even worse, InfoWars or the National Enquirer.

Back in the day, we used to call that straightforward psyops. We can’t stop the big boys with the money and the power from doing this. Except by creating a vacuum, where the obviousness of the real fakeness (blimey; that has to be an oxymoron) stands out like a sore thumb.

So. First thing. We beg the mainstream media. To. Please. Stop. Lying.

All through the last Presidential election, and since (cf. the CNN link I just posted), the US mainstream news (especially CNN and the NYTimes) made it clear that they were so shattered by the prospect of a Trump Presidency, that they dropped all pretense of dignified indifference, and merrily mixed op-ed with editorial.

Once the mainstream guys and gals do that. Who can you trust? Everyone is biased. And it’s merely a case of choosing your bias of choice. Which will usually be the media which is more entertaining. And likely has naked breasts somewhere.

In which case, we have no-one to blame but ourselves for buying the offending tripe, or adding up the hits on their web-sites.

So. Write to editors. Demand better of the mainstream media. Absolutely immutable impartiality. Much higher standards of fact-checking. Script without typo’s. Return the mainstream media to being the icon of rectitude, truth and independent fact that once it was.

Now. That is not to say we ignore what has come to be known as ‘alternative news.’ Frankly, with the increasing control of mainstream media by less-than-unbiased corporate interests, many alternative news outlets have become a credible and useful source of otherwise invisible yet truthful information. I mean, I just conducted a radio interview with an online alternative news outlet, #TheOppermanReport. Yes. That was a plug. A real one. As opposed to a fake plug.

But. In this new age of not knowing what to think about what is being targeted at us. Be it from a billboard or one’s computer. Just try relying on common sense, instinct and your own research.

When did we all become so lazy, so gullible and such whiners? Whaa. Elections are bought by corporations. Bollocks. Elections are bought by the idiots who buy the crap they see in television ads. Stop buying it.

Stop buying what is in ads. Stop buying what is in any media outlet. Get online. Do some research. Consider it carefully. Test it against your own common sense. Get on the phone. Ask a few people some pertinent questions. Become your own citizen journalist. But for the love of all things Mark Z., stop whining. Take responsibility.

Rich people will always be greedy. Powerful people will always be abusive. And what you choose to buy or believe will always reside within your own capabilities. A capability that is rendered way more resourceful, ironically, bearing in mind where this note began, with a totally unregulated Internet and social media.

(Facebook comments here.)

Published in: on July 9, 2017 at 7:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

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