Considering how paranoid I get when I’m tired–okay, I get paranoid a lot but let’s push that aside for the moment–probably the last thing I should have done last night before going to bed was listen to the latest episode of the podcast “The Smartest Man in the World.” Don’t get me wrong, it was actually one of the better episodes of the show lately. But this time Greg Proops ended the show on a more serious note than usual. He ranted (intelligently) about the government spying on us through the actions of the NSA and how this violated the fourth amendment. At one point in the show he said don’t use Google or Facebook because they willingly gave our information to the government. Of course I get the feeling that those companies had little choice but let’s suppose that they had. He did add “Or use them, because we all do.” One gets the feeling that he’ll still use the Google property YouTube as well as Facebook because he is a public figure.
For this blog I use Blogger which is owned by Google. I then promote every post on Facebook in order to reach most of the people that read it. As I was in bed after the show was over and waiting for sleep to come I started to wonder if I too should stop using these companies for my blog. I could switch to another blog site and then set up an e-mail mailing list to let people know about each new post. But really nowhere on the Internet is safe. Any company can be coerced into giving up the information that we put out on the Internet. I wouldn’t switch companies for privacy reasons, by the way. After all I’m putting this information out in the public myself for everybody to see. The move would be more ideological, spurring me to not support the companies whose activities I oppose.
The thought then occurred that I could get a typewriter and distribute my blog to anybody who wants it. I could very easily take each manuscript and pay for photocopies. Between that and mailing it I could charge a small fee for anybody who really wants to read it still…. Wait a minute, the postal service is still run by the government. Let’s suppose that they won’t read my mail (which, let’s be honest, they probably wouldn’t). I’m still supporting them financially to send the blog across the country and even beyond for my long-distance readers. On top of that I’m using gas to get the manuscripts to a photocopier as well as a mailbox. Talk about financially supporting companies that I shouldn’t support morally.
The point is that we can’t avoid every product and service because of every activity that the company behind it engages in. Sure, there’s a line that has to be drawn somewhere but have we really reached it yet? That’s subjective. I’m sure there’s people who would give a resounding “Yes” to that question. But the fact of the matter is that I willingly gave what little information I gave to Google and Facebook to use their services to express my liberal views… and to date they haven’t bothered censoring me. I have to wonder if that has anything to do with Google’s decision to not let me put ads on my blog to try to make money but I also think my small readership may be more of a factor.
I get along with people in person that I don’t agree with politically. I don’t approve of what Google did but until I feel either personally threatened I see no need to discontinue using Blogger. I knew going into putting any information on the Internet that it would be easy for anybody to monitor me. It’s a good thing that I don’t put any secrets out there that could be used against me. Unfortunately my life is so boring that I don’t really have any. If they really wanted to trace my online activity to legally purchasing and downloading adult videos in order to embarrass me then let them. That’s the only thing I can think of.
Orwell said that he didn’t think a society like he described in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” would really exist. The closest we would come would be one that the book would accurately parody. We may have reached that point or at least we’re coming close to it. But if we reached that kind of society it’s a poorly run version of it. Whistles are being blown and the government is floundering in response. Despite it’s efforts in the last decade we still have the right to speak out against actions we don’t see fit.