Story team: Clint, George, Hitesh & Mike
There’s a theory that dogs make people into better people, because people with dogs want to be the people that their dogs think they are. There’s something about a “machine for loving unconditionally” (as Michel Houellebecq put it), that makes not being worthy of love too heartbreaking to consider. I’m meant to be laboring a metaphor that says dogs are like the socialnetworking revolution in that the information contained in those Silicon Valley servers is as embarrassing, and as personal as the information that your dog would have if she had the power of comprehension. But to be quite frank, I can’t see that proposition not being a good thing.
I mean privacy is nice, and all, but we have so much of it. I’m not being facetious, or ironic, I really mean this. We’re privileged, in that privacy is always an option. There’s no law that says you can’t turn off the computer or your phone, and lock yourself in your room. I enjoy a good part of every day doing just that. And yet, when I am in a public forum, whether it’s virtual, or physical, I don’t say or do things, which are private. It’s just common sense.
But we are social creatures. Most people, given the choice will choose to be with other people, and modern technology has allowed us that luxury even when we are alone in our rooms. The trade off is that we are in private less often, but we still do have enough privacy that no one is suffering for it. The fact that we have less privacy in our lives nowadays is a choice. It is a common assumption that these technologies are in fact eroding our privacy. People make this assumption because they’re scared by how much privacy they find they are willing to give up when it becomes a choice. If you can blame someone (or something) else for the poor decisions that you make, then you can move with impunity, and make more poor decisions. -Thus, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Which accounts for all the people saying stupid things in their facebook status updates. Because, to be honest, people will take any opportunity given to say stupid things in a public forum. Now, surely stupid things being said is not the worst problem facing modern society. Besides, those people saying those stupid things either get immediate comeuppance, or no one cares enough to say anything, in which case the silence is deafening. Either way, it’s a win-win; as opposed to the old way where such utterances caused polite silences. There is a real concern over how much personal information Facebook, as a corporation has. I would be remiss not to mention that, but I don’t think there’s a whole hell of a lot we can do about it, so why worry? Data mining has been happening for as long as people have had personal data, and the only information that the corporations are after is the information that’s going top make them money. They want to know what your favorite brand of biscuits is, so relax (here’s a tip: if you really want to subvert their intentions, be unpredictable in your biscuit choice). Deep down, we all know this, that’s why we value privacy so much; -because we don’t want to admit the banality of the conclusions that could be drawn from our secrets being revealed. But even that need has its limit, which is why we tolerate data-mining.
So if we could give dogs the power of comprehension, and (why the fuck not?) speech, I suspect that a frightening number of people would, knowing full well that Fido may at any moment (probably while running around on a hot day) let his tongue slip. And we/they’d do that because deep down, they know that their secrets are incredibly banal in their salaciousness, and yet are still the most interesting things about them. It’s just too bad that while the dog/social networking metaphor is apt, it’s not perfect; since it’s not making people into better people, it’s just showing us more of who they already were.