I'm not supposed to be writing this.
I really ought to be working on a new piece for OpenMedia, seeing as how my last one was the Meltdown/Spectre analysis back in January. I ought to be writing about the Nova Scotia teen being unfairly prosecuted for discovering a sloppy flaw in Nova Scotia's FOI website. Maybe I ought to be writing about the U.S. state of Georgia's terrible new law which criminalizes information security research. Perhaps I should write about how Microsoft just sent a guy to prison for copying freely-available install images onto DVDs so that people with old computers could reinstall their OSes more easily. Don't even get me started on Facebook. I ought to be writing about at least a dozen different tech-travesties that are setting dangerous precedents to undermine our freedom as consumers, our privacy, our information security, and even our democracy.
The problem is that I don't know where to start.
Like many contemporary activists (dare I name myself as such), the current degree of – how shall I say – upfuckery* in our world has worn on me. Reading the news of technology-politics has begun to seem like a whack-a-mole board where everything that pops up is a vile demon-mole threatening to destroy the internet, or lay the foundations of tech-subjugation. Whack one on the head, and another two pop up.
Worse, it feels utterly impossible to draw people's attention to these issues – it doesn't matter how existential the threats. Many the people who you should be able to get on your side have their own horrible whack-a-mole boards to contend with. Boards labelled "Rape Culture" and "Colonialism" and "Civil Liberties Violations" and "Racism" and "Environmental Collapse" – and gods know you don't want them to stop smashing the horrible demon-moles that are popping out of their own boards – not for a minute.
There's also the learning curve: before you can tell someone why it's important not to let governments backdoor encryption, you have to explain what encryption is, how it works, and the basic principles of information security. Only after laying a tedious amount of groundwork in a culture of increasingly short attention spans can you go about the business of convincing your audience of your point.
Then comes the usual difficulties of changing minds. People prefer to trust their guts, rather than taking the effort to get informed, or merely trusting the opinions of a group of informed experts (such as doctors, climate scientists, or IT/comp-sci pros). Too many people seem to prefer ignoring a problem, or outright denying its existence, until the literal floodwaters have submerged their ankles.
The confluence of all these frustrations creates a mess of ambivalent emotions: Wanting to just throw your hands up and watch the world go to hell out of spite so you can later say, "I told you so"; A strong resolve to redouble your efforts and force positive change; From being incredibly frustrated that more people aren't listening to your message, to being sympathetic that everyone's emotional energies and attentions are spread so very thin.
It's strange: while I've slowly ceased being optimistic about outcomes, I've not yet resolved to stop fighting.
But if you're reading this post, and I have miraculously lassoed your attention, maybe the one takeaway from this glorified rant should be as follows: given everything going on – and the fact that I have precious little time and energy to write – if I have written something, and encouraged you to read it, it's because I (your volunteer technology politics issues digester) have selected it from the many, MANY technology dumpster fires currently conflagrating as something particularly worthy of your attention, and something that requires action.
And if you did read all the way through this post, let me say thank you for allowing this self-indulgent rant, which spewed forth with no plan and little forethought. Thank you for supporting my writing by taking five minutes to pay attention. You must be pretty awesome.
Well, back to work I guess...
mushroom cloud by juliarstudio via depositphotos
100% accurate self-portrait by Jesse Schooff