John Lockwood

Not a writer, but playing one on the internet

The Weekend I Put my Foil Hat On

An evening or two ago I had watched a great documentary, The Social Dilemma, all about how sites like Facebook have all sorts of downsides. I’ve written about an earlier attempt I made at weaning myself from social media, and reported on the results shortly thereafter. Since then I’ve backslid considerably, but the documentary re-raised many of the issues that led me to try to escape in the first place.

The problems with the technology are numerous. There’s the relentless assault on privacy and even free will, which is further documented brilliantly in a book by one of the film’s authors, Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. There’s the tribalism and trollery that the algorithms not only tolerate, but actively encourage as a means to further user engagement. Trump’s disastrous presidency is a presidency of Twitter. It is succinct and relentless divisiveness without substance. There’s the erosion of true friendship and human community and it’s replacement with a pale, depressing similacrum of followers and friends (in the Facebook-friend sense).

So in the last day or so I’ve been busy hacking away at various security technologies – from the Tor browser and VPNs, to a secure email account. Note to self: AWS’s Workmail sucks – don’t go there again, I don’t care how certified you get.

Now it’s almost midnight, and I just installed a VPN on another device.

I’m exhausted and out of ideas to write about, but I take leave of you suggesting that this foil hat looks good on me.