I think of systems as big, scary, faceless monsters with a mind of their own and the resources to control me, when in reality all systems are humans with accountability and weaknesses. Maybe technology is a mask. When we can’t see the threat we treat it as if it’s not there. We treat it as if it’s unstoppable.
I stopped liking the internet with the advent of YouTube adverts. Looking retrospectively to 2004 I recall finding relevant information from countries not isolated to the United Status up to page 30 and beyond. I spent more time on one search result, based on one word, and I don’t recall using Google but rather Yahoo, AOL and MSN. I enjoyed there not being a dominant service to use nor television adverts turning brand names into transitive verbs. When did I start telling people to ‘Google it?’ instead of engaging in debate or exercising my memory to try and gage answers? When did I replace speech with an internet connection, my mouth with materials that damage the earth and keep my people destitute? What made me associate having endless access to English speaking citizens around the world with democracy? Isn’t democracy a feature of governance? What was I thinking to openly celebrate a very large file as a system of controlled living?
My illusions of internet democracy died when people started getting fired from jobs and competitions for opinions they’d expressed online. Opinions that are archived and don’t provide room for context or change. When speech becomes synonymous with money, free thinking dies and conformity becomes a means of living. What good is talking to people across oceans if none of you are allowed to say anything? How can organising riots over BBM be a crime granting the government snooping privileges for our protection? We need protection from whatever it is we’re righting over. We are not the threat, we are responding to a threat. There is no ideal way to respond to an attack on your life. Just like the heirarchisizing of language, dialect and accent, the services we use for speaking and the type of ideas we communicate became heirarchies, too. Since when did yellow pixels become expressions of human emotion? How did we come to favour Facebook over Myspace? Myspace taught me how to code, Facebook taught me how to be idle and nosy.
The internet is supposedly blind. So why is it Pan-African images and video are so effectively policed but uncensored footage of blood and melanin is so readily available? Why does saying nigga get you locked out of your account but All Lives Matter go uninhibited? Who became the deciding factor in what language use is offensive? When did we start living by linguistic terms of service? Were non-Latin derived names always subject to squiggly red lines? Was Street Slang and Patois always code for autocorrect? I know what I’m saying I don’t need a device to tell me! Why are there no African or indigenous languages on translate apps? Why are companies trying to stop globally dispersed and economically destitute black and brown bodies from making calls over WiFi? International credit is too expensive. We’re already paying for our phones, national credits/contracts/broadband and poor service courtesy of poor infrastructure & resource theft. Why are we legally bound to communication? Why can’t I opt out of using my own voice? When did a machine replace my free will or rather when did another person replace my free will? Siri says; ‘Since Always.’
But always can be changed. Maybe it’s time for me to return to notepads, printed books and word of mouth. But aren’t these vessels are policed, too? I don’t know how to recycle materials and create dyes and instruments to write with – is there a ‘How To’ Vlog for that?White-owned publishing agencies and Government sensors determine what words are worth printing. I’m limited to reading in my own language because broad languages aren’t taught in school and mass media-pedalled xenophobia dissuades people from learning from one another. Gentrification is destroying our public parks. We can’t congregate on streets without police escort and we can’t sit in public buildings without paying for a service.
So Google – How do I communicate freely in 2017?