Title Image

Smooth Operator

Smooth Operator

African Baobab TreeAnd so it’s Christmas. You’re worn to a frazzle. The sleeping  herpes virus has awoken and painfully alerted you to its presence. You drive to the doctor. Then to the pharmacy. It’s nothing really in the great scheme of things. A bit of discomfort, especially in the heat, this time of year.  But it’s something about yourself you don’t want to share on Facebook, or with your former or future lovers, or with your insurance company, advertisers, or the government – or leave hanging up there in the cloud do you? Well if you own a smartphone darling, it’s thank you for sharing.  You are leaving a trail of dots that can be joined. There’s nothing stopping the multi-trillion “Smart things” business now.  The internet lives in your wristwatch, the locks on your doors, your car, in your eyewear, in your phone. Our physical world is on the brink of morphing into a virtual one. We’re tiny frogs in hyper-connected water that’s hotting up.imagesW7IIH6N5

And yet in this interconnected world where we are all stardust, all part of the Great Design, what’s so ominous about being transparent? Is this Western need for individualization and privacy passé? An anachronistic foible of ageing Baby Boomers? A dinosaur in a quantum age?

Christopher Mims, science and technology correspondent for Quartz writes that 2014 is the year of the internet of things. And the internet of things will replace the web and tell us what we want – continually. No surprises. No spontaneity. It will moderate our lives, anticipate our thoughts and feelings – till we’re too dumbed down to wonder, whose life is this anyway? “The web will survive, just as email survived the arrival of the web.”  Science Fiction, Double Feature.  We are but players, joined by invisible threads that urge us to buy more stuff, that know exactly where we are and what we’re doing. We may feel important, special, seen. But there is a price to pay for our narcissistic  specialness.

BI prophet and founder of 9sight Consulting Dr Barry Devlin, writes in a recent blog post: “ The sad truth is that we have lost most of our privacy already, having entered into a Faustian pact to share, both knowingly and unwittingly, the details of our daily lives.”

images8KWPVDZDIt’s a trade-off. Like most things in life it must be made with as much consciousness and alertness as we can muster in our dazed and dazzled minds. At it’s best it’s a symbiotic relationship. At it’s worst it’s parasitic. In exchange for everything there is to know about our lives, Facebook and Google give us social networks and information we may find useful – or not .

“Even the acceptance that our smartphones report our location minute by minute is driven by a consensual belief that we may be offered a coupon for a nearby coffee shop at any moment. The payoff for ultimate traceability… Which aisle in the supermarket are you in? What about some very specific retail therapy recommendations? These, and other soon to emerge toys, have the addictive quality of sex to many of the current generation of CMOs and proponents of big analytics,” writes Devlin.

Dave Eggers’ The Circle: A Novel is chillingly prophetic in the same way that George Orwell’s 1984 was 30 years ago.  “The world has dorkified itself,” he writes about the insidious encroachment of technology in every aspect of our lives. Oh, but this is just a novel, he cleverly states up front. A chilling read and well worth slipping into your own Christmas stocking. Big Brother is watching us in our dorkified new world – every breath you take. Every move you make. Every bond you break … every time we use our credit card or phone a friend.

So step off the grid this Christmas. Meet those you love in real time. Embrace the spirit of Christmas with real hugs and real kisses.

Smooth Operator  songstress Sade’s molasses voice melts the world away…





Ingrid Hoffman

  • michel

    December 19, 2013at5:32 pm Reply

    hear hear dear ingrid…so well said and written…in simple words…i totally agree….have a blessed and loving xmas xx

  • Bev

    December 20, 2013at6:18 am Reply

    Read this in an article…..

    We Often Overshare
    Social media quickly breaks down personal barriers. People will post things to their Facebook accounts that they probably never would have called dozens of people over the phone to share. These little tidbits open up a whole new world of conversational opportunities when we see our friends in person.

    Before social media, jumping into a conversation about breastfeeding with a coworker may have felt awkward. After seeing her pictures and posts online, however, it’s much easier to broach the subject. While there are certainly pros and cons to oversharing, this proves that social media isn’t as isolating as some believe.

    • Ingrid

      December 20, 2013at12:06 pm Reply

      Thank you Bev. Oversharing on social media is not really the topic of this blog post this week. Rather Pluto’s transit through Capricorn – Big Brother who watches, calibrates, and capitalises on our every move. This blog post is a departure from my usual subject matter and not really an area that I have much knowledge or interest in. I do not own a smartphone and am way off the grid! I recommend reading The Circle for a chilling insight into things yet to come….

  • Joanna Watters

    December 20, 2013at2:27 pm Reply

    I live on a Greek island. A recent trip to London had its usual impact – the consumerism smacking you in the face as soon as you get off the plane. Buy, buy, buy… the more you buy, the more you are “someone”. It’s discomfiting to know that if the authorities wanted to track me they would even know which seat I’d sat in. Just yesterday someone asked me why I didn’t want to live in the UK again and I said, “because Big Brother is watching you”. He answered, “yes, there are cameras everywhere. i got fined for doing 31 mph in a 30mph zone.” Just this little story made me think of the craziness of the robotic computer police and the resulting soulless machinery to which we are all increasingly subject. How do we put the humanity back into such a system?

Post a Comment