January 10, 2014
On Christmas Day, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden released a video statement on the implications of massive government spying. The exile to Russia reminded us once again that Western governments have worked in cahoots to establish a worldwide Orwellian surveillance network. He laughably implored viewers that “together” we can still “remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.” I say “laughably,” as the average working grunt is too content to sit on his duff than petition the government for his rights back.
Snowden’s message, despite its merit, was a wash. Nobody wanted to turn Christmas into a day of intellectual pondering on the sanctity of privacy. The holiday is supposed to be reserved for joy.
Snowden’s statement came off as a vain attempt to be epic, but the biggest leaker in American history had a point. To amplify his message’s urgency, he declared that children born today will “never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.”
For better or worse, the technological age is transforming our society. We can now communicate across the planet in a matter of seconds. All types of obscure goods can be purchased online. Businesses are no longer confined to small geographic areas. Loved ones can easily talk to one another across national borders. As New York Times hack Thomas Friedman described it, “The World is Flat,” and it’s only getting flatter.
These benefits, great as they are, don’t come for free. We pay for convenience by willfully giving up privacy. Smartphones basically act like global tracking devices in your pocket. Every email sent is sucked up and recorded somewhere on a government server. Bank-account numbers are thrown up on the Internet, only to be occasionally stolen by slick hackers. Social media might as well be a portal for telling employers, “Never hire me, ever.”
Like welfare, the average person has opted for short-term benefits at the expense of his own freedom. If that decision were limited to just the individual, everything would be kosher. But under democracy, every brain-dead bottom-feeder has a shot at electing steal-and-redistribute pols. They don’t just vote away their own liberty; they surrender everyone’s for a taste of tax handouts.
Some of the more sycophantic political voices have called Snowden a narcissistic traitor for spilling the beans on the NSA. Putting a message out on Christmas was a stretch at grandeur, but it still contained a warning against unchecked modernism. You can see it in children today. Twiddling around on iPhones or within video game worlds, all of their actions are monitored and recorded. This happens with little notice from them or their parents. Most times, it’s mommy and daddy who are blowing the college fund to keep up with the Joneses and ensure junior possesses the newest “smart” device to show off at school.