The Jinni and You: Who is serving who?
10 November 2012
Of course, there are plenty of benefits in high technology, especially the “phone” that serves as a camera, music player, internet portal, television, voice recorder, secretary, computer, GPS device etc. For instance, through social media we can find like-minded people from around the world, which could help us affirm our bigotry or allow us to exchange ideas and learn from others. It helps to find locations in big cities. Call friends or police for help when we are in need. It allows people to vent their frustrations against governments or institutions… The list is long.
But, the price of Aladdin’s Lamb that fits in our pocket might be bigger than its benefits. The jinni is not always benevolent. We are polluting the environment from the birth and death of each device and the mass destruction of each model declared “old” by companies whose entire goal is to tell us how bad is the gadget we just got a few months ago and sell us a newer gadget. We become perpetually unsatisfied consumers consumed by greed to get newer toys over and over. We are like children addicted with newer toys, and ready to replace a perfectly functioning phone at the drop of a commercial. Instead of talking to the person sitting next to us or our neighbor we are texting or sharing our private information with strangers, perhaps a troll we would never consider as a friend in real life.
We tag each other’s’ names on pictures and do the work for FBI, CIA and all other alphabet-soup secret agencies that do very dirty works. We are manipulated by governments, the rich and powerful through social media. We spend precious time and effort debating social and political issues with others via social media, without knowing that some of them are bots or trained propaganda agents by governments and cancerous organizations. We are distracted during work and even in classrooms. I have to repeatedly warn some of my distracted and fragmented students not to be tempted to check their phone during the classroom.
The list of benefits of carrying all those gadgets in one’s pocket is long, but the list of harms might be longer. So, do not fall in love with the jinni in your pocket. Use it carefully, and less. Watch people around you in malls and trains: they ears are plugged, their eyes are fixated, their fingers are tickled… Then look at ourselves. We are swallowed by corporate black holes. We are swallowed into a parallel universe dominated by plutocracy or global oligarchy: Facebook, Google, and similar mass-spying and manipulation programs. We need to start unplugging and get to know our neighbors and help each other.