As you know, I’ve been away from the keyboards for a while now. I’ve been out breaking all of my previous hiking records. Not that those records were all that impressive to begin with, certainly not in comparison to people who have made truly long treks, like the Arizona Trail, or the Pacific Coast Trail, or the Appalachian Trail.
But to me, they are milestones.
I’m not only learning more about and experiencing Nature in its great diversity, which makes me really happy. 🙂 But I’m beginning to test my own limits and learning where I need to “tone-up.” Both physically and mentally.
I’ve also been able to disconnect for a while from the machines – the computers, the touch screens, the digital world.
And now it may be difficult to come back – at least in part.
You see, now I have severe questions about social media, its supposed purpose, and what’s actually happening with it.
If you are living in the states, you may, or may not, remember when television switched from analog to digital. There was sort of a behind the scenes panic.
The government stepped in to make sure people would at least have a free converter box, because in my view, the government didn’t want the non-stop drone of propaganda and advertising to stop – not even for an instant. It was a massive and expensive intrusion into the living rooms of every American family.
Imagining that people would become disconnected from the screen and actually start thinking for themselves is a scary proposition. It might lead to social unrest and reform.
Can’t have that.
And then social media began to creep into our lives. You can argue about the vision the original proponents had about this all you want, but it’s become clear, sadly, that it’s not just commercialism driving its expansion.
Sure, social media offers us new avenues of communication. Of reaching out and making new contacts, friends even. Or with re-establishing old contacts with those who have gone off down other pathways. And it may even help alleviate social isolation in certain ways. But despite all of the alleged benefits and all of the hype, I’ve always found it a bit lacking.
I mean people staring at touch screens and sending each other emoticons is not exactly real social interaction. There is no sound, no voice intonations, no nuance with body language to convey meaning. No direct line of sight. No smell, no touch. No looking into an other’s eyes. No common atmosphere.
It’s more holographic than real.
And many people don’t really care about issues of privacy. They will put every bit of personal data, light or dark, out there for the whole world to see. They might even have expressed the point of view that they have nothing to hide, so why not? Who cares about the Fourth Amendment, and how does privacy affect personal freedom anyway?
But the real issues have been more insidious. Those involving the misuse of data – your personal data. In ways you may have never conceived before.
I’m sure you’ve noticed how specifically targeted ads are delivered to you in the sidebars of your email, Facebook, etc. I order a product from Amazon, or something from E-Bay, or even mention a specific word in an email, and suddenly the ads roll on by – coming at me from all directions. Designed to influence my buying decisions. To capture my dollars. ChaChing !
That’s because we’ve signed all of our privacy rights away in those terms and conditions of use for these online platforms. They read all of our “personal” stuff.
They data-mine us.
And now we learn the mining is not just to try to sell us things we don’t need or want, but they sell the data to other companies for exploitation. Our data. To exploit us. Mold and shape us.
The biggest scam yet, unfortunately, was the 2016 election. Cambridge Analytica bought our data from Facebook. And after collecting some 1500 to 4500 data points on each American citizen, and after analyzing and profiling that data, they targeted a small number of people in select counties of the US that they knew they could manipulate.
Brainwash is a better word.
And they pounded those folks with targeted advertisements and BS material to gain votes. And they won the election for the highest bidder. And they’ve done this in other countries before.
The public was side-tracked with the headlines focusing on the Russians trying to influence the election, but the real threat came from right here at home and the UK’s consulting firm.
Your personal data and your privacy do matter.
And for those who think they can’t possibly be manipulated by such tactics, well you must either be a very discriminating reader and be able to tune out all the background noise, or your decisions are influenced much more than you think.
I suggest you watch the documentary “The Great Hack.”
So this leaves me with a big dilemma. Do I continue to use the most polluted and exploited social media platform out there to maintain contact with a select few individuals? I mean most, “followers” and “friends” really don’t know me at all. They don’t collect and analyze my data points. They don’t even “like” my posts or communicate with me. And there really is no solid point of reference for them to “like” me for being the person I am.
And of course, the data-miners may have me totally pegged by now anyway.
Analyzed, categorized, profiled, group-identified, labeled, designated, branded and tagged. Does it matter if I continue to play their game or not?
I am a walking, taking, digital signature.
Regardless, I recognize a grave danger here, and it’s something I don’t really care to play a part of in anyway. Or anymore. So for the time being, I’m suspending my activity on FB. They make it hard to disengage completely anyway, so that account will lay dormant. I’m trying to decide on my other accounts too.
Should I totally disconnect, return to all cash purchases, try to make myself untraceable? It may be way too late.
And when you have a quiet moment away from all of the digital bantering, think. Think. Just let yourself think about what it is that is you. What makes you, you, and not someone else. And what it is that is being programmed or crammed in your head by others.
There is a difference.
Photo: I came across this young and playful Black Bear yesterday and was absolutely thrilled to get this pic. I love all of Nature and I have a particular fondness for the Bears. I love their symbolism as well, and you can read about that in my prior post “The Bear.”
I chose this pic for this post, because to me, it represents the wisdom with being solitary, independent, and ferociously curious. It is a strong and fearless spirit that engages in introspection, the digestion of knowledge, and the attainment of truth. To be the Bear in this world may mean disconnecting to find meaning and clarity. Better to walk your own path than one dictated and propagated by others.