Back fifty or so years ago, rather cheesy sci-fi movies were in vogue -such as bizarre blobs from outer space landing on earth and taking over the world. I recall seeing a trailer for one once that proclaimed something to the effect (about a blob/creature) that “It took over the world”. Drive-in movie sci-fi aside, what has really taken over the world in the last three decades? Wireless communications and the internet.
I was musing recently on the concept of the Internet. As I understand it, the internet was developed at least in part by the Defense Department to facilitate communication between U.S. military bases, even during a potential nuclear exchange or world war scenario. (No, Al Gore did not invent the internet). I was born in 1983, and there was no commonplace civilian internet than, or any cellphones either.
I was homeschooled from grades 5 through 12, but recall a single computer sitting in the classroom during some of my time in public elementary school. I believe it may have had a green screen image. I had no real computer interaction until my mid-teens (the late 1990s). I did have a desktop personal computer –operating on Windows 95- for the last three years of homeschool high school. I did not have internet access then, though some of my relatives and church acquaintances did have it.
The first time I saw an acquaintance use a cellphone was in 1999, when I and some relatives were traveling to a funeral in the Indianapolis area. It was a phone in a bag like setup, that had to be plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter (for power) to work. Millennials might be surprised to see how different life was for a rural guy just 20 years ago!
I was a bit behind the tech revolution. While I used the internet at a few of my jobs, I (by choice) did not have the internet in my house until 2012. I have never owned a cellphone. I have indie published four small books and currently blog from a single laptop that is now almost six years old.
While I was outside the tech revolution, most Americans were excitedly embracing it. Cellphones are now ubiquitous, even for teenagers. Almost every house has the interment and at least one computer. Most people’s cellphones are smartphones- basically a minicomputer with internet access. People are plugged into instant communication with the world every waking minute. This is a historical anomaly.
The government now acts as if universal internet access is a necessity, a civil right or something. Schools and homes without it must be underprivileged -or perhaps so deep in the backwoods that coon hunting, pool halls, and banjo playing are the primary forms of social interaction (just kidding, I live in a pretty rural area myself and there are no pool halls nearby).
You see, if everyone is constantly plugged into the internet –a network conceived by the Federal government and ran by government chartered corporations- than the government can monitor all communications. Why have paid spies doing surveillance only on high value targets like in East Germany when everyone will buy their own electronic devices and voluntarily log onto the governments’ system every day? (Check out my post Who Owned The Tea? for an essay on the blurred line between the state and its corporations https://putnamlibertynotes.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/who-owned-the-tea/ ). And of course, cellphones track one’s location in real time – a boon to any tyrannical state.
Recently, I have seen the Alt-Right complaining about media censorship, both “fake news” outlets and social media (like Twitter) censorship of Alt-Right accounts. One piece I saw wanted social media nationalized like utility companies, to remove (liberal) company’s bias. As a liberty advocate, I have negative views of both corporations and the currently out-of-control government. That being said, nationalizing a corporate entity is about the only way to make it even worse. Then the state can control it all- in the name of national security of course.
The internet currently allows us to network with others and to spread information without it being filtered by the state or mainstream news outlets. This is very good. But it has a downside. Now the state may read our every communication, and even monitor what websites we view/information we consume –something it could not do when you bought a magazine off the newsstand or watched (mainstream garbage) TV. The internet is a two edged sword; let us not forget that. The internet is the data stream that took over the world.
© Copyright 2017 by Joseph Charles Putnam of Orange County, Indiana. All rights reserved.