I read George Orwell’s famous book, 1984, again, the other day, and I was amazed to come to the realization that most of what he had imagined has come to pass.
Of course, the setting is completely different. We enjoy freedom of expression and free movement, and people’s human rights are being defended more than before.
But still, it seems to me that in terms of freedom what we are gaining on one hand, we are loosing it on the other hand, because of technology.
Big Brother is watching us, indeed.
For instance, I have no idea of all the sites I visited, all the searches I entered on Google, yesterday, or the week before, or one year ago! But, Big Brother knows more about me than I know about myself! Big Brother has a very, very, very big memory. He has a very clear idea of all my wanderings, as I can ascertain by going through my history on my browser: Big Brother keeps a very precise recording of each of my click!
And Big Brother is everybody: there is no Internet site that will not warn you about the cookies they are using to determine your preferences. Which I found profoundly limitative as, by doing so, instead of expanding my horizons, they are narrowing it to a few subjects I am supposed to be interested in.
For instance, in September, last year, as Ebola outbreak was just starting, I was very much concerned about it, as Nigeria was at risk, and in Yahoo news, I was always clicking on Ebola headlines, but after a while, I noticed that most of the titles I had to choose from were about that disease. And I was like: so, my entire life now has been reduced to this. Nothing else is happening in the world that I could be interested in?
And, it is scary sometimes when you think about it.
I went to buy a pencil for my eyebrows, the other day, and the cashier was asking for my name, address, phone number, date of birth (to be able to send a happy birthday message) and the experience is the same in every shop you enter. It is always very frustrating for me: so you are entitled to my life history, with every details stored on your computer, because of a pencil for my eyebrows?
Big Brother can locate accurately my every move through my mobile phone and the smartest part is, that I activated the location feature willingly!
Yes. I want to know what the temperature will be like or if it is going to rain.
Yes. I need to use Google Maps to avoid getting lost in the labyrinthine streets of Lagos.
And above all, I want to be able to retrieve my phone if it gets lost, or at least to be able to delete personal information on it!
I was updating Skype once, and the app quietly took a picture of me, without asking for my authorization first. I was like: are you for real? So, you start my camera on your own and you take my picture just like that? Without my consent? All in the name of free calls?
As my cousin likes to say: “There is no such thing as a free meal!”
This happened some time ago, and I have done many more upgrades since then and it never occurred again, so I supposed it was corrected.
However, it is like we are surrendering our freedom piece by piece. Willingly.
Each one of your tweets is recorded. Your pictures on Facebook, Instagram, are up there for eternity and beyond!
George, you were a visionary! But you didn’t foresee that we would embrace Big Brother with such enthusiasm!
Perhaps it is the prize to pay for our security.
For example, there are cameras everywhere in the streets of London, in the London underground, and I must say that it is a precious feeling to feel safe wherever you go.