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Digital Privacy and the Loss of Happenstance

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

“Hey, Google.”

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the fact that our world is now filled with devices that listen to us. All. The. Time.

Sure, when it’s a Google Home or Amazon Alexa, you can physically unplug if you’re feeling a bit private. But many of our phones now have apps that listen around the clock, turning our conversations into keywords and selling them off to the highest bidder to create highly targeted advertising (Toby has even done a webinar on how to use this information for your Facebook advertising).

Some might say: who cares! It helps fill your feed with relevant things that you’re more likely to need or want to see.

But others feel violated. For me, it’s the romance of happenstance that I mourn.

Let me explain.

Back in the day (and by that, I mean 20 years ago when I was a teenager), I sometimes had the feeling that all the stars were aligning with a mysterious sense of purpose – just for me.

“This was meant to be!” I remember saying.

If I was deciding between buying a pair of Adidas or Nike shoes, and I stumbled on an ad for Adidas, I might see that as a gentle nudge from the cosmos. Meant to be.

Weeks from flying to Greece with my high school class I remember seeing a subway ad for a Greek Restaurant and feeling like deep down, it was validation for my upcoming trip.

There was a romance around coincidence, a joy in feeling like the universe was unfolding as it should. And woo woo aside, it was simply satisfying how things sometimes just fell into place.

These days, with voice recognition software gleaming information from every element of our digital lives, you’re a sucker to think that anything just happens. Our lives are now curated - reflecting a reality that is shaped for us, and really, by us.

It’s a fascinating landscape we live; one that breeds cynicism and dashes hopes of ‘meant to be’. Yet more than ever, the world is at our command.

What are your thoughts on the creep of internet privacy?

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