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(2012-01-15) Looking back at the 2010s

All eras are defined mostly in hindsight. A number of years later people may laugh at it, shake their heads or just get that “dreamy look” in their eyes when they think about it. If you think about the 1950s, you have an era which everyone has an opinion about. Even those that weren’t even born back then (I sure wasn’t). We may laugh at the commie scares and the crazy times when people feared the atom bomb. And it looks even worse when you think about the wars and the segregation. Exactly what it looked like and if it indeed did look the same way depended on where you were in the world.

It’s 2012 now and as always we live in the ultra-now. It will take a number of years until we can look back and think about it. What do you think we’ll love, like, hate or just don’t care for when we look back at the 2010s?

A few years ago I was worried about the surveillance spreading throughout our cities, networks and society. I concluded my blog post by noting that this is something we may have to sit through and hope that we learn something from in the end. That’s still my opinion, and the dark clouds are still gathering. They almost fill up the whole sky by now. The Internet gets more and more regulated. Not a month goes by without new words like SOPA, PIPA, Hadoopi and IPRED. The politicians and private sector managers are not the enemies, because they’re us! They’re citizens in the same society we are. Some of them may want to capitalize on our fears, but most of them believe in what they’re doing. The road to where we're heading is paved with the best of intentions. And still, we know it's not going well and it's not going in the right direction.

It doesn’t matter that we’re safer now than ever, the fears are still there. Whatever we don’t feel we fully understand and control, must therefore be tamed. The Internet fits this description, and so do the public streets and the places where we meet. All those must be controlled and any and all risks must be eliminated. Yesteryear’s anger over cameras that go everywhere and having to sacrifice our privacy is now just an irritated mumble. This is where we’re going, and it’s painfully apparent. What isn’t so apparent is where we will end up and how much it’s going to cost us.

But I worry more about how the mentalities change over time. We have not only come to accept things that we couldn’t dream of tolerating 10-20 years ago. But we also demand to know everything about everyone. Dostoyevsky once wrote that “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons”, and if the fear, paranoia, loss of freedom and decline of justice in our society continue that may one day be something we all get a firsthand experience with. “Innocent” is just a word. Just like “civilization” and “society”.

Posted: 2012-01-15 by Erik Zalitis
Changed: 2012-01-21 by Erik Zalitis

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