A Projection of Your Future
I read the news. Im guessing most people do, probably a lot more than me. I dont make it a habit to read every headline, every day. i dont think thats particularly useful. Headlines dont tell you much really. When it comes to front page news, I'll read the details every now and then, which is always there, at least to some degree. Its after the first few paragraphs. The first few tell you what happened: skip those and you get some background.
Other than that, I read random articles and those opinion pieces. I think those opinion pieces are fantastic: they let you gauge the feeling of the general populace. Same with random news articles, like today, Elton John said in an interview that organised religion should be banned. Its interesting really, and he makes some decent, if grossly overgeneralised points. But its this kind of thing that lets you make trend predictions about where the worlds going and why, based on where we've been. The headlines only ever tell you where we are now.
And where are we going to be? To me the future looks bleak. Well, lets take some random facts picked up in some random pieces I've read or have been told about.
- In the UK, the average person is picked up on CCTV some 300 times a day (I found this impossible to believe, I still do, but when I counted I get picked up by CCTV at least 10 times a day...those are the ones I know about).
- The government is planning to calculate council tax not just on the value of your home, but according to your post code. How? In the UK, every street (I think) has a unique post code. The government has information on the incomes of people at each post code, age demographics, how many VEGETARIANS live at each post code (vegetarians are generally more in upper-middle class areas), the crime rate, what kind of car people there drive...etc. So basically, council tax will charged not only on how you live, but how your neighbours live too. Not a big deal? Read on.
- One of my lecturers told me about a brother-in-law who works for an insurance company that will be able to give you a quote for house insurance just by you providing a name and a date of birth. Using this, they will be able to pull up all the info they have on you: age, sex, criminal record, race, religion, employment history, what kind of area you live in, etc. All that info is in their hands, and theres nothing you can do about it.
- If you've seen Minority Report, you'll probably be shocked and disturbed at the bit where hes walking through this mall, and all these advertisements are screaming out at him, using his name personally. My university is working on creating such a system (so that advertisements can be personalised to what YOU want, they say). Me and a friend joked about someone walking down the street, and some talking billboard screaming at him that he can solve his problem with VIAGRAAAAA.
- Richard Perle, former foreign policy advisor to GWB, (jokingly) describing US foreign policy as 'whos next?'
- The numerous antiterrorism laws cropping up which give governments more and more power to eavesdrop, follow what we're doing, and hold is in detention without trial for longer and longer with less and less evidence.
- The head of the UK's MI5 saying that terrorism will define 'our generation'. So, its not a few years, its a generation. If this is the problem that characterises our generation, how do you think government will respond, by letting us mind our own business? Or, as Orwell envisioned, with TVs that watch us more than we watch them?
- the fact that its actually illegal to BUY music online and burn it onto a CD to listen to in your car.
- I dont know if this was passed in the US or not, but the idea that flag burning could be a punishable offence.
- A man was sentenced to 40 years in jail the other day for plotting terrorist attacks across the US and in Britain. The details were quite disgusting, but the dude was apprehended before he could do anything. The worrying bit was that, even though it was alleged he was well backed up by Al Qaida, he was convicted on evidence and information found on hard drives. But no money from al qaida was actually found, no weapons, no chemicals, no nothing. Yet, based on that evidence, he was given one of the harshest sentences possible, reserved for those who have committed the worst crimes.
And theres a lot more. Read the opinion pieces in the middle of the papers. Those are key. But where does this all take us? All I see is control, control, control. Fear and uncertainty will dominate our times, and its not our choice. Our governments are scared of terrorism (whether its genuine or its a political tool I dont know), and the more scared they are, the more they take actions which fuel it. You have voiced on both sides of the populace arguing loudly for radical action. In the end I fear its the voices on the right who will be listened to, as they demand purging the threat, by whatever means necessary. Freedom of speech is already compromised. You cant glorify terrorism or incite hatred - which I dont disagree with, but the problem is where to draw the line. I may want to express my support for the palestinian cause, but I dont know where to stop, in case I'm locked up.
And this will continue for a while, and will be sped up if we have another big terrorist attack sometime. Fear and uncertainty is warping our ability as a society to think, and its this thats gonna drive us towards something resembling a police state in the next few decades.
Posted by illogicist at 5:04 AM