The Internet As Important As Guns & Water
Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently issued a statement launching a new initiative, called Internet.org. Titled “Is Connectivity a Human Right?”, the social media mogul went on record to assert that yes, it is. Like the rights to vote, to work, to possess a firearm or remain silent, the ability to surf the web is God-given to every air-breather of woman born upon the Earth’s smiling face.
Like all natural rights, the rationale for unimpeachable connectivity is due to its critical role to our modern economy. Citing a 2011 McKinsey study, Zuckerberg makes it clear:
“…the internet now accounts for a larger percent of GDP in many developed countries than agriculture and energy. It has also accounted for 21% of GDP growth in developed countries in the past five years, increasing rapidly from just 10% over the past 15 years. About 75% of the gains are experienced by companies outside of the technology industry. And the internet creates jobs, with 2.6 new jobs being created for every job lost to gained efficiencies.”
The modern economy is different than that of our collective forebears, a svelte and slim ethereal sort of of thing that’s good for everybody. It may well seem like a world built upon airy foundations, where theoretically businesses can make mad amounts of cash without actually producing anything; but leave us not jest.
That’s for Zuckerberg to nab at. However, the Facebook chief’s cheery optimism can be said to teeter upon the edge of Freudian:
“…a knowledge economy is different and encourages worldwide prosperity. It’s not zero sum. If you know something, that doesn’t stop me from knowing it too. In fact, the more things we all know, the better ideas, products and services we can all offer and the better all of our lives will be.”
There is a worry – and a substantial one, at that – where a person’s data is up for grabs for complete strangers’ gain, whether that be of a fiduciary, reconnoital, or a malignant other nature. Granted, the general ebb and flow of information is that freely surrendered by the perversely unfettered, the application-inundated, and the stone dumb.
But relatively recent revelations regarding the horizontally-wide scope of NSA snooping powers over people’s emails, the legitimately worrisome lack of oversight over said programming, or the Obama administration’s frustratingly indifferent reactions to such trifles – all are meaningless blurbs for the politico columns when one considers the true intent of Zuck’s jibe.
There are complaints levelled that only a third of the world’s population are hooked to the Internet. With Facebook scrabbling to crawl onto people’s smartphones and wrest itself into every conceivable orifice of people’s daily doings, and sell said information to advertisers not unlike the heroes of t.v.’s Mad Men, it only stands to reason that Zuckerberg’s interest lies in maximizing his company’s conceivable market share through capturing the globe’s collected mind.
Imagine. Every picture. Every night out. Every interesting link shared for the benefit of friends, things that may have mildly fondled the soul for even the briefest of instants.
Sort of a soulless kind of existence, really. One to warrant a general return to a more real, analog sort of lifestyle freed from the shackles of social media, of blogging, of tweeting, and rank subliminances.
Which says nothing of the piffling implications for real rights that yet go unaddressed or suppressed, which are at the least rhetorically cheapened by the brazen addition of web-connectivity to their ranks. The rights to live, love, labour and be rightfully paid for it mean dick-all for this bone crunching crusade against digitised darkness. So long as our thumbs keep twiddling smiley faces and loosely-approximated spellings of words, we are all free human beings according to our social CEO.