Crawl out from the bits and bytes. Ignore your service provider. Turn off the social media and, for god’s sake, don’t go near Amazon, Apple, Facebook or Google. Or so the New York Times would have us believe. According to the Times, Amazon determines what you will purchase, Apple controls all the apps, Facebook manages the news, and Google…well… Google is God. (Or evil incarnate if you happen to work for Microsoft—Bling is a poor second—or Firefox—never fun to be a poor cousin condemned to spend two weeks with wealthy relatives.)
Have to admit I was a bit dumbfounded by this slice of technophobia…or should it be called “Luddite redux?” Particularly from the NYT, that grey old lady who could not wait to charge for on-line access. Yes, you read it here, the New York Times, that paper currently engaged in electronic revulsion, was the first major American news provider to demand readers pay for consuming their grist via the internet. Go figure.
As best I can tell as a self-confessed denizen of the World Wide Web—I started working over a modem from home back in 1987—the New York Times is engaged in that ever-popular hobby of casting doubt upon all that you do not completely understand. It’s a safe bet most NYT readers are not residents of Silicon Valley nor spend a great deal of time working on software coding or electronic innovation. Hence the willingness to subscribe to such fear mongering.
Amazon does not dictate what I purchase, Amazon makes it cheaper and easier to acquire the stuff necessary to make my day-to-day existence simpler. Apple does not require I use their phone—disclaimer, I do—nor subscribe to an endless variety of single-source applications. (In fact, my phone is a damn mess because I employ applications that offer access to Ohm’s Law and the latest nautical navigation charts. Neither of which are high on Apple’s production schedule.) Facebook sure as hell does not serve as my primary news provider…shit, I don’t even have a Facebook account. If you want to read all the same shlock your friends browse through…log into Facebook. Just keep in mind membership and time spent on Mark Zuckerberg’s software is all voluntary…no harm done the willing victim.
Google. Alas, what can we say of Google. A giant octopus that effectively owns the world of search functions…BECAUSE IT’S DAMN GOOD AT FINDING THAT WHICH YOU SEEK ON THE ENDLESS COLLECTION OF TRIVIA AVAILABE VIA THE WEB. There, now I feel better. Sorry for shouting. But perhaps someone should remind the New York Times that Google, like Facebook, Apple and Amazon are all voluntary choices. There are no small number of other options.
Unlike, oh, say. Theology. It’s becoming ever more apparent we are running out of options on the religious front. You are either Christian or not. You are either Muslim, or not. Same for being Wiccan, Hindu, Buddhist, or an atheist. Makes for a dichotomous world rife for conflict. A problem the major technology giants have yet to inflict upon us mere mortals. Last I looked Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, nor Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been declared intellectually immortal—unlike Christ, the Prophet Mohammed, or Dali Lama.
Yet, the New York Times is apparently afraid we will all be led astray by the technology giants of today. Wonder if the Times had a similar reaction to Graham Bell and Thomas Edison—you remember the telephone and lightbulb?—or Henry Ford? That damn automobile sure changed the world.
The difference between technology and theology is that the former delivers content, the latter determines a context by which we consume that content. I fear the latter, the former is just another Guttenberg printing press…albeit at high speed…electrons, like paper, are easily disposed of. You won’t remember this tirade 30 seconds after surfing off to another adventure in on-line voyeurism.
Can’t say the same of religion. That you won’t forget. Even if you only attend coven, church, mosque or temple on the high holy days. Strange the New York Times has not brought this uncomfortable reality back to the front pages. Maybe we can get the Russians or ISIS to slip that fact into their electronic conversation…via Amazon, Apple, Facebook or Google.
Eric C. Anderson
15 October 2017