And Then I Woke Up

atari-400-300x201I think about technology all the time. I think about how much it has taken over every facet of my life in a short period of time and I now try to spend weekends offline away from screens. I think about how I am part of the first digital test generation who grew up with computers in their home.

When I was about twelve I convinced my Mother to get the first Atari 400. My Father thought it was a fad. Perhaps he was right after thirty years, as technology has finally become a fashion accessory.

My friends all got them too and before long we were obsessed with gaming and programming. We would spend hours, even days locked away in suburban basements and rec-rooms staring at screens. We would trade the latest software. Some kids became experts at piracy in their curtain closed bedrooms. All piracy was offline. This was at the advent of 300 baud modems with acoustic couplers that you attached to your phone. This got you to an online bulletin board that was only text. The computers had no drives built into them. There were clunky tape drives or disc drives for storage.

I look back at this time and think about how seduced we all were. I also realize how patient we were. I’ve gone back to these computers and games and discovered how incredibly tedious they were; so brutally un-adaptive compared to now.

I wonder if there is now a certain saturation point or a distinctive timeframe where you eventually become exhausted of a screen. Is this point part of your advancing age or is it finite. Perhaps after 10,0000 hours of staring at a screen in your life, it becomes confining. If you conservatively looked a screen for an average of 4 hours a day over thirty years, it would be something approaching 5 years of your life.

When you are twelve you do not think about the future. You do not think about results and implications. You don’t think about reality all that much. Recently I cannot get my head around the idea of how commonplace digital technology has become over security. How kids have no sense of their own privacy and enjoy putting their lives online for the sake of marketers and corporations. They don’t see the corporations because they are so influenced by their peers. Their comfort zone is the screen.

The dark side of pervasive computing is that you don’t see where your data is going. You don’t think about it like when you were twelve. It’s perfect collectivism. Facebook is an awesome conformist tool. Any Fascist regime or Dictatorship from history would have loved Facebook as long as they had the keys to the backdoor.

Cracks in the walls of cyber-security mostly stem from social engineering or humans who give out information recklessly. If you are twenty-five and working for a major corporation or a bank is your default to share everything or do you have to be reminded to not give out secret knowledge? A curious problem is coming to a head. We have lost all respect for information. It’s our downfall. We are all eternally twelve.

– X.F. Pine

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