In this day and age of Facebook and Google we tend to easily lose ourselves in a barrage of endless information. Caught up in being part of what we regard as “the Pack” we tend to engage ourselves by participating in an electronic reality where it is dangerously easy to become lost in a morass of sometimes meaningless data. Not only can this become a predictable way to express our own identity it can also quash our sense of individual worth. Some of us end up believing that we need to emulate the people we see on reality television to succeed or even the boobs on you tube doing various and assorted ridiculous stunts to draw attention to themselves in hopes of creating a “viral video”. The younger generation seems particularly vulnerable and decidedly numb to this type of exploitation. Unfortunately the very same tools which can bring about so much potential convenience are the very same ones that can bring about a bridge of no return.
Not only are we being exploited on reality television we are also being exploited by what has become to be known as “Big Data”. As the use of electronic devices become necessary for our very existence in this highly competitive and technologically oriented world it is nearly impossible to “go off the grid”. Thus we are exposed to being tracked and marketed in every sense. Every website we go to, every store we make a purchase at, the types of products we use are tracked even our movements in retail outlets are recorded for future use. Our friends are tracked as well, the products they use, our interests, their interests — all of this information becomes valuable marketing data which is bought and sold like so many sacks of potatoes. Our privacy is gone. Today as this article was updated from a previous post the New York Times reports that Google is under investigation for illegally gathering data by scanning email from people using its “free” Gmail services. This includes an estimated half billion people worldwide.
The time has truly come to fruition were the marketers can now predict our behavior to a frighteningly large degree. Why is this new method of marketing so frightening? Simply because we are now considered commodities — as opposed to being individuals with unique thoughts and needs — we have now become the property of “Big Data” and are under their control with customized advertising geared to tell us what we need before we even know it ourselves. The ancient Chinese proverb says: “May you live in interesting times”. Well indeed we are and let’s keep up our vigilance to not lose our identity or our children’s identity in a pile of “Big Data” sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Google and Facebook where we voluntarily “feed the machine”.
“America’s Facebook generation shows a submission to standardization that I haven’t seen before. The American adventure has always been about people forgetting their former selves. Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac went on the road. If they had a Facebook page they wouldn’t have been able to forget their former selves.” — Jaron Lanier
“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” — Marshall McLuhan
Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween