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The Last Virus?

Updated: Dec 14, 2020


More and more we’re being told what to feel and think by corporate America (eg. Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, et al). We’ve always been told what to feel and think by corporate America, obviously, but back in the day (like, five years ago), corporate America and our own minds and bodies still were separated by this thing called our skin; by boundaries, however porous they might have been. But with the advent of virtual social media (what does “virtual social” even amount to anymore?), our skin is no longer a boundary. Now they get their ubiquitous messages through our eyes and ears, and with the roll-out soon of the Apple Watch in 2015, they will, as it turns out, get under our skin.

Important to remind ourselves that Apple — like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter — is a private company with a bottom line, and it isn’t your well-being. These aren’t non-profit charities or charitable NGO’s. They are corporate America dolled up to look like your hipster friends. And they want, not just your attention and money, but every piece of you and every secret you’ve got to spare along the way. Don’t know about you, but I’ve got too many secrets that I’m not about to share with a faceless corporation — or with the rest of the world, for that matter. Undeterred by this, these companies are out to harvest whatever information they can. And ideally, you’ll not only let them do this, you’ll beg them to. To wit: the recent lines around the block for the iPhone 6.

In one of the latest TIME magazines, there was this slug line: “Technology’s biggest advances have come from making our machines more intimate.” And as our machines have become more intimate, we’ve become more inanimate. Seems there’s always a trade-off on the road to personal nirvana. Sure you still want to play?

We’re constantly told that we’re one touch away from “a world of information,” as if this is necessarily a good thing, that information is what makes life worth living, or as if that’s what we really need more of. Don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty damn sick of information. In the same TIME magazine article, the author asks what comes after the Apple Watch and iPhone: the iMplant? Then there’s this doozy of a paragraph:

“The reality of living with an iPhone, or any smart, connected mobile device, is that it makes reality feel just that little bit less real. One gets overconnected, to the point where one is apt to pay attention to the thoughts and opinions of distant anonymous strangers over those of loved ones who are in the same room. One forgets how to be alone and undistracted. Ironically enough, experiences don’t feel fully real till you’ve used your phone to make them virtual — tweeted them or tumbled them or Instagrammed them or YouTubed them — and the world has congratulated you for doing so.”

Seems that in our inexorable rush from 1G to 4G, we’ve landed in a dark wood and have lost our way, to borrow from Dante. But do we even care anymore? I mean, if you have no direction, can you really ever be lost? Will it take a trip through hell for us to wake up from the real nightmare of virtual technology? And if it doesn’t feel like a nightmare to you yet, take a little gander at this lovely little p.s.a:

And now read Mind Change by Susan Greenfield, then make decisions about the technology you use — which technologies are good and which aren’t. All of history’s biggest revolutions happened incrementally. The real virus? Well, you can dispense with your concerns about Ebola, because this virus is about to be put on your wrist, and it’ll soon be in your brain, and it’s already in your head. Hell, it’s in the air — all you have to do is breathe.

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