Readers!

Please enjoy these blogposts, written between 2011 and 2015. Find newer posts soon at my forthcoming blog, Revolutionary Time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Watched!


I’ve never worried much about privacy.  Most people who want to know something about me can elicit my whole life story, including my biggest mistakes, in about fifteen minutes.  I trust easily—that’s one thing.  And I would rather not have to filter my response to people through a screen of what is or isn’t their business.  This may be one way in which I am not an introvert. 

When I follow debates over government and market surveillance, I have to goad myself toward outrage.

That hand-held gismo that McGee uses on NCIS to identify a body by fingerprint--Tana Ganeva of Alternet says in an online article today that machines like this can now also scan retinas and do facial recognition. But what does all that have to do with me? Will I show up dead and unrecognizable in some alley? Am I likely to be taken for a terrorist? The possibility of my getting into serious trouble is remote. Not even Derrick Jensen is blowing up dams or taking out cell towers yet.  I don’t feel any incipient property damage bubbling up, never mind any violence. 

Just because (even) Alternet flashes an ad for a dress I just looked at on a retail site, does that mean I have to buy it? 

Should I worry that Facebook’s facial recognition software can now find me in photos others may have taken without my knowledge?  Or that bars are streaming customers’ antics live online?

This stuff just doesn’t prey on my mind.  In some ways I wish it did.  I wish I had more secrets. 

We let them get by us, all these new ways to track us down, to trap us, because we figure they won’t turn up anything actionable, not about us. Only the guilty or (in the case of marketing shakedowns, the stupid) need worry. Or the presumed guilty, like non-white young men.

This is my default setting.  I’m not proud of it.  Even the following, attributed to German pastor Martin Niemoller, only moves me sometimes. 

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

I hope your conscience is working better than mine.