Mass terrorism efficiently terrorises us all, by one or two concrete acts, usually in places so far away – and yet emotionally, psychologically so very near.
Neo-terrorism, meanwhile, has the motive, means and opportunity to terrorise – over sustained periods of time – specific individuals, their lives, and their professional trajectories.
Why do the neo-terrorists act as they do? Because they can. They have the tech, the knowledge, the smoke and mirrors, the mis-applied intelligences, the ideologies to justify.
They do it because they can. And they do it because they need to.
To the neo-terrorists of bad tech: “Your time is running out”
I’ve been involved with tech, in a kind of ad hoc way, for decades now. But haven’t we all?
We get tempted, we resist for a while, we slip into what our bodies and souls say are better ways, but then we think: “Hey, this is cool. This is really cool.” And we get engaged all over again.
I’ve been going to Dublin for two and a half years now. There’s a lot of tech there. A lot of fabulous people. I’ve met the best. And like everywhere, I’ve met a lot of high achievers who believe their way is the only way. That’s the nature of the beast. But although I am neither musician nor police officer, and probably never will be, my beat lies radically elsewhere. I believe in a tech not of self-centred focus, nor a tech which simply believes in community and socialism when this is the socialism of the tax break and the community of the boardroom (and if only, you might even sigh; if only, these days …); and then there’s the software constitutions they design so beautifully but so selfishly, behind founding barred and CCTV-ed gates, in order that they might funnel more and more data into the pockets of the already unimaginably wealthy …
Ayn Rand, one of their ideologues, famously stated (or so they are clearly pleased to claim) “that ‘man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself’.”
Meanwhile, people I live with, here in Liverpool, from countries other than my country of birth, good people, hard-working young people who’ve come over to this 21st century UK looking to break cycles of drudgery before they grow old, tell me, yes they tell me, how as subcontracted workforces they work minimum twelve-hour shifts for the richest people in the world, with much less than a decent rest-break between one shift and another. They have degrees, yer know? Sometimes, even though they never cease to go off to work, of Fahrenheit. One would hope that never 451.
I met one of these Ayn Rand ideologues on my recent visit to Ireland. This person greeted me at his offices, beautiful offices, a grand building like so many in Dublin, a city of places and literature and culture, and “Stephen’s Green … my green …”.
This ideologue, I had yet to realise he was one, in fact even during our conversation I didn’t quite catch on in time, I burble a lot, it makes people think I’m a tad stupid; but I am actually quite a reflective thinker, and I never forget stupid little details which one day, always, serve to complete some picture out there.
So anyway, he took me to a rundown cafe, noble enough in itself, I really had no problem, the person who I assumed was the owner greeted me kindly – as good people everywhere, but particularly in Ireland, unfailingly do. And then this ideologue ingratiated himself, attempted to, with his neuro-linguistic ideas and keywords. He described how after so many years of success, and just like me, he was starting out, only had a handful of employees (meanwhile, I am just me!), and then he discussed the reptilian brains of his customers and users, of the ordinary Joe, and (one assumes) Joanna too.
He told me that obese people (like myself) were obese because of the people we frequented, and that if I frequented people like him, and left my past completely behind, and embraced starting up in Dublin by washing cars as he had done, when once recently graduated from a degree and learning and fine education and grand lecturers and fabulous opportunity … and all I could think, even then, was that no one deserves a life of washing cars. Absolutely no one. So to turn it into a rite of passage for every aspiring soul and mind and brain cell of quiver and shiver is just rubbish.
Especially when it begins to become the only job you ever do aspire to. Can aspire to. Are allowed, by those who deliberately design these things, to hanker after.
Now over the years, I’ve experienced my fair share of bullying. I know how to recognise it. And those who have bullied me … well, they enjoy knowing I do.
The thing is, bullies also believe – as Ayn & Co – that they are the only people worth considering in the world, that the pursuit of their own happiness overrides the interests of everyone they meet, that sharp tongues are to be welcomed if they satisfy the speaker’s needs, and that what some argue is bullying – whilst legally bullying in the eye of the beholder until an investigation proves otherwise – is never more than a bit of friendly banter that maybe sometimes goes a tad over the top. But hey, man (and woman, and genders all): toughen up. Yer know?
So. You may say … where’s he going with all this?
Well. It’s my opinion that the bad tech – and here I insist, like everywhere, like my beloved Dublin, like my fabulous city of residence Liverpool, like so many people and places I have lived in my fifty-six years, oh yes, I insist, always will, that there is of course bad and good everywhere … but this bad bad tech of Silicon Valley, this terrible, wasteful sad, it goes much much further than Ayn Rand, self-satisfaction, and telling a 56-year-old Englishman in a land which has become so close to his heart and so distant to his realistic possibilities that if he really wants to get on in life, he must either choose obesity and people he loves and treasures – or body-hacking and people he must learn to fear.
Neo-terrorists, is what we might call the bad ones. In fact, I do. And I am developing a PhD to test my hypothesis and terminology.
And in the very best tradition of all software projects, I am now going to pre-publish it in alpha, version 5.3 alpha, but alpha nevertheless. Though not male. If you get my drift.
Don’t enjoy – but you know what I mean …
Also published on Medium.