How Cyberspace has changed our understanding of Privacy and Security Mariam Jammal
Over the past few weeks, Twitter has had the privilege of hosting another high- profile character: Edward Snowden. Unlike other online presences, Snowden’s claim to fame is being the notorious NSA whistleblower in 2013. Currently seeking asylum in Russia, his story continues to shake the world. Regardless of what your stance is throughout these developments, a few things definitely need to be acknowledged. Firstly, the files released by Snowden have completely reshaped the way we view privacy and virtual security. The way our information can be stored and transferred across borders with such ease has made us rethink what we put into the cyber universe. It has reminded us that no one is exempt from information monitoring, and whatever we post, text, or share can have long term ramifications for us (one does not have to look much farther than our own federal election to find evidence of this). The ambiguity that surrounds these information databases, coupled with the lack of transparency about
how this information is being used and the length of time it is being stored, is jarring. Snowden’s files have skyrocketed cyber security and privacy to the forefront of both individual and political concern. This brings us to the second point – these leaks have reaffirmed that no one is above the law. Often we forget that governments and their institutions work for and are funded by the people. For better or worse, they are public service employees who we have entrusted with our society, values, and security. This does not put them above the law. The NSA’s phone surveillance program was found likely unconstitutional, and it served as a reality check for many people. Being entrusted by a nation of millions does not warrant or allow otherwise illegal activity. In the end, a democratic state is held accountable to its people and is expected to answer to them and to the laws they have sworn to uphold and enforce.
Finally, and probably the most important revelation, is just how unconcerned and out of touch we are with our realities. The dystopian novels we read in high school may seem farfetched, but we need to evaluate where we are and where we are headed towards in the future. Unauthorized surveillance of civilians and information sharing across the globe is unsettling. Not knowing which part of your conversations and activities are being recorded, and then shipped off across the world, is destabilizing. While many may not agree with Edward Snowden’s methods, he definitely initiated a very important conversation. Cyber security has dominated a huge part of what we consider private – it has reshaped the way we interact online and what kind of ideas and thoughts we allow ourselves to share. It can build us up and subsequently tear us down, and we are just beginning to understand the implications of this.
Rethinking why we praise the Popular over the Profound Andre Darbinian
Last year was probably the best year ever. Why? I met Mumford & Sons. For those of you who don’t know me, if you were to ask me who my favourite band is, I would instantly say Mumford & Sons. The reason is because they are the band that got me into songwriting, and it wasn’t because of their banjo riffs (although those are kind of cool), but because of their lyrics. Personally, I think our mentality towards music should be similar to that one person in class who doesn’t care about the question they’re asking, regardless of how it makes them seem. What does that mean? It is my opinion that we listen to music because of its popularity. We’re like the rest of the class who wait for the awkward silence to end when the professor asks us if we have any questions. We’re too busy furiously typing into our keyboards so that we can keep up with the latest single instead of thinking about what’s actually filling our ears. After a quick Google search of the current chart-toppers, the two most popular
tracks are The Weeknd’s “The Hills” and Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?”. For the sake of this article, let’s say that the general themes for both of these songs are relationships and love. And now let’s look at this quote from an artist I quite admire, Jon Foreman: “I was thinking about how love (not just lust or codependency that commonly flood the tunes on the airways) actually involves quite a bit of faith. There’s a lot of letting go involved. Two souls in love is an intricate dance of give and take. I can be a fairly solitary person from time to time. Sure, I love being with people, but I also need time alone. I guess I thrive on the poles. So this song is about the dance involved in a relationship the coming together and letting go. The song equates love with breathingpulling in and releasing. Or a seed, for the seed to grow it has to be dropped and buried. In our barcode media, love is often portrayed as consumption. As consumers in a commercial
driven culture we can begin to view other souls as objects or potential cures for our deepest fears and insecurities. “Perhaps if I found the right lover I would no longer feel this deep existential despair.” But of course no human soul could be the Constant Other, the face that will never go away. Only the infinite can fill that role. But the silence can be deafening. It’s a fearful thing to be alone. Do you love me enough to let me go? “I can’t live without you” - “I would die if you ever left me”- These are not the songs of love, these are the songs of consumption.” Looking back, I find it both funny and sad how accurate this quote still is. For the most part, pop culture hasn’t changed. So I challenge you to Google the lyrics to all of your favourite songs and approach them from this mentality of giving. It’s my hope as a songwriter that perhaps my lyrics, as rough as they may be, will be a gift to those around me rather than a form of consumption.