So…this article is a bit off the beaten track of finance, as far as this blog is concerned. Being a bit absent the last few months (apologies!) I’ve discovered an additional interest in a few social issues beyond just finance and – if anyone will bear with me – wanted to share just to see what happens. In a way I suppose you could related the same to finance in that we are (especially here in America) a consumer culture that is similarly and constantly distracted by advertising that attempts to convince us the only thing we need to focus on is the fact that we always need ‘MORE!!’ But if anyone enjoys these different types of articles, maybe I might start another section so anyone who wants to can check out some un-finance-related/sometimes random/political/or otherwise stuff sometimes as well as the regular stuff. So without further ado…here is a special rant(!) on technology and some curious speculation on exactly what is up with all of it…hope you enjoy and please feel free to comment/message and more! Cheers and best wishes 🙂 – Megan
Nevermind the Real Issues, Just Play with Your…Facebook
Mushroom treatment anyone?
Is our culture getting dumbed down? Are we thinking less and less about what information we share and give away for the sake of entertainment and connecting with our friends? It seems that all a company has to do today to garner any amount of personal information is to wave the ever-shiny carrot of ‘social interaction’ in everyone’s face. Even my phone, which used to be incredibly quick with email and text messages, is now lumbering along in the business efficiency department in order to cater to a better Facebook experience. Bigger screen! Prettier pictures! Constant connection! We use Facebook to share every moment of our waking lives, Waze to navigate the city streets and Instagram to photo-document ourselves. But how is what we share being used by the organizations to which we grant all this access? Just the other day when I began to download Waze, it informed me that in order to use it services (yes, I admit, I’d like to know where the police traps are) I was required to grant the app access to my photos – not only on my device, but also in any remote location or in the cloud – as well as control over my camera, video camera and microphone whenever it pleased, and the ability to add, modify or delete my contacts. The only part of the agreement that made any sense was that it needed to know my location – sure, it’s a mapping app. But what’s with the rest of it? And how many people are just clicking accept without reading the terms – or, worse yet – how many people read the terms and click accept anyway?
We’re so used to sharing our information. It’s become second nature to simply hand over every aspect of our private lives, so much so that when a company asks to control our phone, we simply figure, “Why not?” We slough off concerns about what our Facebook accounts are doing with our information because, “Seriously, the government already knows everything we do anyway.” …Ok. First of all – apathy aside – how did we become okay with that? Have our everyday lives become so hard that we can no longer afford to care about the bigger issues beyond simply putting food on the table? Are we just lazy? Or are we desensitized? The world is becoming a bigger and bigger place, with an ever-increasing level of connection, created by those with far more knowledge of how to use that connection and what it is capable of than we are – and, while I’m really not into the drama of conspiracy theory, I just think it pays to use a little discretion. For instance, if our information is so worthless, why are companies willing to give us all kinds of free services in order to get it? Corporations don’t want to know about you so that they can get you the right gift for your birthday or Kwanzaa. They want something worth selling – which again begs the question – why is it so valuable? We figure it’s “just” personal information, and besides, everybody else is doing it – and if I do it, I can connect with everyone else. If I don’t, I’m just left out. I’m the loser with a Blackberry still using Google Maps instead of Waze and checking Facebook on my computer. Plus, if everyone’s doing it, it must be okay. Right? I mean if no one’s really talking about the doubts or concerns, they’re forgettable. And in the meantime, I’ve noticed companies growing bolder and bolder in the information they ‘require’ me to provide – information that, whether I have anything to hide or not, is absolutely none of their f&*%ing business.
Waze has more than 50 million users, Facebook over a billion and a half, and who knows how many new cars on the road with built-in navigation that – as of yet – there isn’t an option to turn off, plus questions about what kind of data the cars can send without the owner’s knowledge that haven’t even truly been breached due to the fact that most people don’t even know about it. Everybody has been talking to me about how great Waze is, and it turns out it’s crazy creepy. I’m just saying we should have a discussion about it. Our world has become tailored towards our entertainment rather than our awareness, and I can’t help but wonder because really, it doesn’t make any sense.