I made the mistake of jokingly saying “I can’t wait for them to just put an implant in my brain that does all of that” in front of my wife yesterday. I am a typical tech geek. I have an iPhone 4 that does everything. People say to me “you’re never off facebook” and my reply is usually, “I’m never on facebook, I am on the bus”. I connect to people all the time and it rarely impacts upon daily life as it happens whilst I commute, walk or eat my lunch. Yesterday my mother in law mentioned that she had lost her phone (old fashioned nokia) and asked me to text it to ask anyone who may have found it to contact her. I said “if I lost my iPhone I could go to your computer and find it on a map. I could send a message to it, lock it down and wipe it’s memory. At this point wife had a small fit and said “Are you mad? You are half way through reading 1984!!”
She has a very good point. Technology is able to set us free, connect us with those we love and enable us to network with others… but it could also be used to perpetuate a regime. I have a mobile device in my pocket that identifies me and my movements. Some people even use it to publish where they are via facebook or foursquare.
There is of course more to this interaction between husband and wife yesterday and the conversation progressed. I recalled that a couple of weeks ago we went to a friend’s house and they have a new Xbox Kinect. I didn’t play but I did watch people jumping around their living room looking foolish (I suspect this is better than playing). Yesterday afternoon I mentioned that it was “cool” and speculated that I would possibly like to have one in the future if I ever had the money. Wife again had a small fit and said she wouldn’t have one in the house. She had noticed something else about the experience. When the three-year old child walked past the screen it said “hello Toby”.
I’m not a particularly paranoid person but when wife said “can you imagine if they put one of those on every street corner?” I was left with an icy chill running down my spine. Will I one day be hiding from the Xbox and iPhone and writing by hand using a contraband journal and pen?
“The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed–would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper–the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.”
– George Orwell, 1984