ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

Your Skepticism is Justified and Necessary

Pandemic, power, profits, and a need for greater awareness.

Photo by Ivan Diaz on Unsplash

The mRNA vaccines cause mass sterilization! The PCR test is a scam! COVID cases are artificially inflated! No, we do not have to go that far.

Rather, it may be useful to reflect upon life after the pandemic (the new normal) and to what degree we wish to allow technology, or more specifically tech corporations, to “facilitate” our lives.

The Covid pandemic has provided a golden opportunity for already powerful corporations, fueled by the profit motive, to increase their power (and profits) potentially at the expense of individual liberties (Sound familiar?).

How is this happening and what can we, the people, do about it?

A Great Reset?

At the risk of understating, this past year has been upending and revelatory. One would have thought and hoped, that a global pandemic that left no one unaffected would motivate those in a position of power and authority to conduct “business as usual” a little differently going forward; A Great Reset if you will.

Unfortunately, there are discouraging signs that power, the profit motive, and good ole human nature, are once again at work to push forward an agenda that may not be in the interests of the common good.

Lab leak or Pangolin?

Let us begin with the very origins of the Covid virus itself. Once dismissed as racist and conspiratorial, the lab-leak theory of the virus is now slowly and painfully gaining traction.

As bits of information regarding the Wuhan Lab of Virology, the gain of function research, and Anthony Fauci's role in funding research surface, the very origin of the Covid virus has become politicized whereas it should be a matter of public health.

An excellent resumé of the lab-leak theory is provided by Katherine Eban in Vanity Fair magazine (The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins).

Knowing that money influences and creates a bias in news reporting, it is wholly disheartening albeit unsurprising to learn that money also taints the domain of scientific research.

It is no wonder confidence in institutions such as media and now research is rapidly eroding.

This creates the very space in which conspiracy theories can thrive. Suffice to say, it would be most convenient for many to conclude that the COVID-19 virus had a zoonotic origin.

To conclude otherwise would stir up important issues of accountability, liability and get a lot of powerful people (and countries) into hot water.

Screen test

As it became evident that the world was facing a pandemic, the strategy to limit the propagation of the virus by limiting human interaction became necessary.

Governments around the world began instituting restrictions and lockdown measures obliging individuals to conduct activities such as education and work online.

In addition to providing a temporary solution for the continuation of such activities, it also served as an opportunity to test the efficacy and viability of online services.

Noami Klein addresses this very issue in her foreboding article in the Intercept, Screen New deal.

The future described in this article is as dystopian as it is promising.

The fundamental question that begs to ask is: Given their penchant for tracking users' online activity, should corporations such as Google and/or Microsoft play a role in the development of public services such as education and healthcare?

Have we not learned our lesson with Facebook and other social media apps?

The example of Facebook

At its inception, Facebook was meant to be a platform by which one could connect and share information with peers. It has since gone public and morphed into a behemoth media and marketing corporation that literally tracks your every digital move and sells your personal data.

Its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has been dragged in front of numerous government committees regarding anti-trust and privacy issues (i.e. violations).

Concerns have been voiced but little concrete action has been taken since joining Facebook or using Google is a free choice.

We use these services and accept the loss of privacy. Allowing these corporations into public domains such as health care, education, and justice, however, is an altogether different matter with very different implications particularly in regards to our children (or should I say, future consumers).

This pandemic has fast-tracked our use and reliance on screens. As governments turn to powerful tech corporations such as Google and Microsoft for guidance and expertise, will they understand they are the David facing Goliath?

Will they have the courage to regulate these corporations in order to address anti-trust and privacy issues?

Vaccine passport

The message has been repeated ad nauseam: Our salvation lies with vaccination! It is the fastest route to herd immunity and normalcy.

Regardless of whether this is true or where you stand on the safety of the vaccines themselves, the introduction of the vaccine passport raises many ethical concerns.

It effectively creates two classes of people and places enormous pressure on individuals who would rather not be vaccinated and are perfectly within their rights not to.

At present, the vaccine passport is applied mostly to those who wish to travel. Now introduced and accepted, the temptation to apply it to other activities may prove to be too irresistible.

Final thoughts

The struggle with this defining issue lies with the fact that technology can make our lives easier and better.

Many are thankful to have the opportunity to work from home and not commute, be able to follow a class from home and avoid falling behind, or consult a doctor virtually.

The fundamental question is not whether technology can be beneficial but rather who controls the technology and to what end?

Our future may be one where many, if not most, of our actions, are tracked. If anyone has any doubts about this scenario, simply watch the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma.

Those who argue this is not a problem for those who have done nothing wrong are sadly missing the point.

What is presently occurring represents not only a loss of individual freedom but reduces us to the status of simple consumers whose behaviors can be shaped by artificial intelligence and algorithms.

The act of hoarding wealth inevitably creates a deficit elsewhere. We can buy inexpensive goods because workers are underpaid in other countries. Walmarts and Costcos can stay open during lockdown but small independent businesses have to close.

This gets to the very heart of how power can create imbalance and is the reason the wealthy have fared much better during Covid than the middle class.

We cannot be held responsible for the world’s injustices, but we can bring more awareness into our decisions and make more judicious choices. It begins with a less entitled, more local mindset.

Consume less and from businesses within walking distance of your home, preferably offering locally sourced products. Governments have an obligation to support and facilitate this process for consumers; they must be held accountable.

Be mindful of your internet footprint; protect your privacy to the best of your ability.

The arrogance of man (and the tech industry) is to believe we can somehow improve, through technology, something that was perfect, to begin with (nature).

We have redefined “social” to include virtual interactions. Under the pretense of convenience and facility, we are eroding what is human, face-to-face interactions.

We may not be able, or want to, fight progress but can we, at the very least, ensure it is in harmony with what is natural?

Otherwise, our future nature walks may have to take place with VR goggles on.

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