Monday, November 29, 2010

1984-ish


My half-brother Steve just posted one of those "Facebook is trying to look into your underwear drawer" things again. Apparently they have this new privacy setting called "Instant Personalization" (a term intended, no doubt, to appeal to the lazy narcissist in all of us) that shares data with non-Facebook websites and is automatically set to "Enable." Not only that, but even if you do go and un-check that box, if any of your "friends" don't regularly check their constantly-changing, third-tier Facebook privacy settings and do the same, some of your information is still being shared.

Although we're all hopefully aware by now that there is nothing private about Facebook - that it is, in fact, a big glass box levitating above the busiest intersection of every city and town in the world - this new privacy-flaunting transgression is still a little troubling.

Not as troubling, however, as what happened last night when I tried to upload a video of myself singing along with the Dean Martin song "That's Amore" as it played on an online Karaoke site. All I wanted to do was to cheer up my little sister with some ridiculous melodrama; but when I clicked the button, an Adobe Flash window popped up that said something to the effect that "Facebook is trying to access your webcam and microphone: allow or deny," with the appended warning, "If you choose to allow, Facebook may use this to record you."

To which I said, "WHAaaaAAT the FORKRYINOUTLOUD!?!!?"

I suppose that if there is an internet connection, there is always a way for someone to use that connection for nefarious purposes; and I suppose someone could try to construct a metaphor between that and the inevitable risk of any interpersonal connection, but COME ON! The idea that Facebook might use my own webcam to record me just because I miss seeing a warning from some other mega-conglomerate software company is really and truly nerve-wracking.

And what happens when Adobe and Facebook get in bed and start fornicating? Will I open my laptop one day and be confronted with the computer-generated, artificially-intelligent visage of the star of the last film I watched, urging me to consider buying some new underwear, as those Hanes I'm wearing are looking "a little threadbare and flopsy?" Do I have to accept this?

In short: no; because if there is one thing that all dystopian novels like "1984" have in common, it is that totalitarian hegemonies exist, in part, through the consent of the very people they oppress. Yes, resistance is always difficult, painful, and sometimes deadly - but it is in resistance to tyranny that humanity is rediscovered.

Does this mean I'm going to finish writing this post and then delete my Facebook account and put a piece of duct tape over my webcam? Am I at this point willing to forgo convenient networking and a false sense of connectedness and identity for something more substantial? No. Definitely not. I am far too great a hypocrite - far to much a willing victim - to take up the struggle that could lead to my freedom.

But I'm thinking about it. For the first time, I am really, really thinking about it.

1 comment:

  1. thanks josh for amore. :) i smiled and giggled and loved ya even more! see you soon :)

    ReplyDelete

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