I’d be horrified right now if it wasn’t so entertaining. More hackers, more leaks, and more revelations are flooding the news cycle about how all our nic-nacs and gadgets are collecting information on us to be used later against our interests. While the nothing to hide/nothing to fear crowd is doing their best to poh poh the headlines with their philosophic poison, it’s starting to dawn on people that the internet we’ve all come to know, hate, and completely depend on is built on some increasingly unstable foundations.
According to the latest revelations, not only did the CIA create spyware to take over smart-everything and convince developers to build back doors into every commercially available operating system. They also managed to let it slip through their greasy little fingers and spread it all over the place so now it’s only a matter of time before logging on becomes so dangerous that www will soon become a new four letter word unmentionable in polite company.
Yes there are ways around it, but how do you know the router you used to get your custom firmware wasn’t compromised. How do you know there aren’t undetectable exploits built in from the factory that can never be erased? How do you keep your information safe when the companies you deal with aren’t even able to put in basic protections sufficient for conditions now, never mind the soon-to-be constant attacks of the near future?
We have a few choices.
Just accept it and try to get along with the status quo. All these people talking about this stuff is boring and makes your head hurt. Log on to your account balances while you have some torrented porn playing in the background. You barely have any money for them to steal, and if the alphabet agencies get some webcam pictures of you shooting a few ropes to Barnyard Bill’s bestiality compendium then who cares? It’s not like you were ever going to run for public office.
Digital Demolition Man
Just like the Stallone/Snipes flick, you are going to learn the skills of the future and beat these criminals at their own game! If you have an allergy to sunlight, a nice fat trust fund, and abhor social interaction this may actually be an option. All this programmification is hard work and it takes a lot of skill and dedication to stay on top of the constantly updated threats. Of course it sucks when governments and/or other organizations acting outside of the law decide to make an example of someone. If you managed to not get hijacked, doxed or wind up in federal prison then the other elephant in the room is the electrical grid. When your livelihood depends on a constant supply of fresh uninterupted power in a world where hackers are holding hospitals for ransom, then it’s good to have a plan b for getting the essentials to maintain your squishy non-cybergenic parts. Ideally those strategies doesn’t involve lots of ones and zeros getting in the way.
Uncle Ted isn’t the best example of how to rationally handle a bad situation, but then again he was a kid genius who had his mind tortured by MKUltra so who are we to judge what makes sense in a crazy messed up world where Ivy League universities are celebrated for breeding corporate psycopaths? What we do know about terrorism is that like any kind of violence it requires precise application to achieve a specific set of goals weighed in careful consideration with the inevitable consequences/blowback. Without properly checking those boxes things rapidly descend into a blood-and-feces splattered revenge fest as people revert into a primal state of feral rage that would make a rabid chimpanzee blush in shame. Ted was smarter than most of us and even he couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Chances are you would just screw things up even worse. Instead of adding gas to this fire (and giving the security/surveillance state more excuses to be jerks and waste our money) let’s step back a bit and consider more productive options.
You don’t have to go live in a cave on a mountain, but you also don’t have to walk around like a smartphone zombie either. There are a number of ways to cut down on your exposure to the Internet’s imminent demise in small steps. It’s like going into rehab in some ways. You get off the heroin first, and then work on the nicotine, caffeine, and sugar when the big problems are under control. The great part about coming of age before y2k is that I can still remember writing checks, filling out envelopes, and mailing my orders to the catalog companies to get my squirting flowers, fart powder, and rubber dog crap. Jeff Bezos may have made things awfully convenient, and I’m probably shooting myself in the foot here with all the affiliate links I have posted, but just be aware a few cents on every dollar goes to the people who are making these problems worse.
And speaking of hypocrisy I don’t see myself giving up my smartphone any time soon. It’s just way too convenient at this particular moment in time. I am constantly weighing the options, however, and looking for a good jump-off spot to make a break back to flip phones and pocket calendars. Just like everything else, moderation is key as long as you are keeping an eye on the exit and have a plan to make it there before getting caught in the panic when the fancy amateur pyrotechnics inevitably start a fire in the nightclub.
My first step was ditching Facebook and all other anti-social media, which was difficult but proved to be extremely rewarding. Next up I’m going to patch up the holes leaking money out of my accounts by putting a stop on digital subscriptions that aren’t necessary and have cheap or free analog equivalents. The phone isn’t going to be easy, but after taking on these challenges and getting a glimpse on the promised land the Valley of the Shadow of Digital Deprivation doesn’t seem so scary.
When I do decide to stop stroking my little black e-ddiction I’ll update this story. In the meantime just know that I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be the Shepherd.