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What Worries Me?

"Is that still a thing?"

I love that expression. I was wondering if the idea that California might secede from the United States was still a popular topic or if its day had come and gone. I opened a new browser tab and started to type my query. I had typed "Cali" when Google offered a list of potential completions. At the top of the list was "California secede."

Okay, so it's still a thing. Or is it? Maybe Google just knows me and my interests so well that it can effectively predict my searches before I make them. As a long-time libertarian, maybe I should be worried about that possibility.

Forgive me, Libertarians, for I have sinned, and continue to sin. Here is my confession:

I'm not all that worried about the government, or Google, or Facebook, or Microsoft, or Netflix, or Amazon.com knowing me better than I know myself. I'm not worried about the Internet of Things which might have my toaster talking to my microwave oven. That's a bad example, as neither of those devices can be found in my kitchen (which is really Olga's kitchen). I'm not worried that diabolical data analysts or their AI minions will ferret out my psychological weaknesses and use them to get me to vote for some odious troll in the next election.

I'm definitely not worried about the fact that my phone knows where I am and is relaying that information to Google or the NSA. I'm probably at home. If not there, I'm at the gym, or the TV station, or the radio station, or at a public meeting in Bellows Falls or a nearby village. Or I might be sitting at Subway reading a book.

I could say that I'm worried that Google maps will never figure out that I always want to avoid the George Washington Bridge when I'm coming back from visiting my kids. It's free westbound, but the eastbound toll is fifteen freakin' dollars! I could say I'm worried about that, but what I'd really mean is that I'm pissed off that Google always tries to take me through that pick-pocket station and that I suspect some sort of payola is at work behind the scenes. Either that or the programmers at Google think it's obvious that a driver would pay $10 to shave an expected 4 minutes off their trip. (I still have to cross the Tapenzee bridge, which costs $5.)

I do kind of worry about identity theft, or, more accurately, I recognize that I am vulnerable to identity theft and that it should be a matter of genuine concern for me. In terms of that topic actually hooking up with a state of emotionally-charged anxiety in me, I don't really worry about identity theft either.

What do I worry about? I worry that I will get into a wreck while driving (because I'm fighting with my phone trying to get it to avoid the heinous GW Bridge toll). I worry that I will slip on ice and break something when I have no health insurance. I worry that my kids will be saddled with debt and will struggle to earn a living in tough economic times. I worry that a cop will piss me off and provoke me into doing something incredibly stupid. I worry that a time will come when I am not able to do the thing for which I receive my modest income and that I will have nothing to fall back on. I worry that my best days are behind me.

In short, my worries are all very self-centered, prosaic, and don't flow from my ideological commitments.

In fact, I'm really pretty impatient with worriers, and I've about had it with people who claim to worry over ideological bullshit. And if you tell me that you are afraid when you are not in any apparent danger, and if the source of your supposed fear has something to do with fascists, or Nazis, or white nationalists, I will likely give you a tight-lipped pseudo-smile and an "mmm hmmm" to acknowledge that you have spoken. Then I will disengage or change the topic of conversation, but in my mind, I will have said something rather rude.

I kinda worry that someday I will lose the capacity to think something without saying it out loud.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 12th, 2017 03:33 am (UTC)
"Wait, did I say that out loud?"

I feel ya, KMO. I remember reading the JMG series on the Lakeland District and finding his banning the internet to be over the top.

But lately... I have to say I am tripping over lots and lots of rational reasons to at least want a curtailment of big data collection, especially when it comes to politics. I wouldn't call my concerns "ideological" per se, but rather practical, in that any ideology can grab them and run.
Feb. 15th, 2017 06:22 am (UTC)
seriously. i cant help but judge someone as in need of a reality check when they say theyre scared of whatever cnn, or fox, or Facebook told them to be afraid of that day. people have literally, scare quotes and all, told me theyre afraid.

i wish they knew that theres an off button on all the stuff that makes them feel so scared.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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