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DSC_0005 (Photo credit: Oddtwang)

Drones fill the skies, helping the government to spy on American citizens. States and municipalities can track through traffic cams and other devices where Individual Americans travel. The U. S. government has records of phone calls and internet records. Corporations routinely mine personal data in order to market their products. The distinction between public and private life has eroded, as has any distinction between secret life and private life.

All concentrations of power are dangerous in the contemporary world in which surveillance equipment has advanced to the point that anyone in power could theoretically invade any portion of a person’s life. the rise of federal power as well as the rise of corporate power has led to a centralization of information about people that should frighten even the most cautious individual. This is not a conspiracy, but a natural result, in the case of corporations, of the desire to make more profit by more efficient marketing, and the desire of government officials to gain greater power. In a utilitarian culture, all that matters to many people are the end results–if spying on people yields more profit, the greater profit is worth, so companies believe, the cost of privacy violations.

No human society can survive without some barriers between public, private, and secret lives. All of us, whether or not we admit it, have quirks about which we would rather others be ignorant. The Internet‘s “closed groups” were meant to allow people with various quirks to talk to like minded people, but the Internet is a public forum, and ultimately anyone can get information that a person does not want shared. With the veil between public, private, and secret shattered, trust between people is eroded, and ill will between people spreads like cancer.

There are times I wish I could live like a hobbit in a hole, living a simple life and not having to deal with the complexities of contemporary hubris. Technology can be a good thing, but too often human pride, lust for power, and lust for money corrupts the use of even the best technologies. Unless there is a collapse of civilization–which I certainly do not want to happen–I see no practical solution to the erosion of privacy in contemporary society. All the laws and regulations in the world will only slow, at best, what has been a freight train full of new ways for governments and companies to spy on people. The Brave New World has arrived. Are you satisfied with it?

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