It’s been a great eight years. In that time, WND has done some truly groundbreaking reporting on the issues of the day. I’ve been privileged to be part of that, both as a weekly columnist and, on occasion, as a freelance reporter. For the better part of a decade, I’ve been proud of my involvement with this site. I’ve also been more than a little flattered to see my name listed on the same page as some of the most famous conservative pundits in the world.
Technocracy, my column, began eight years ago with a simple mission: to examine the intersection of technology and the Internet with individual liberty and society. In the last eight years, we’ve covered a host of topics ranging from physical technology, to the ways our leaders use and abuse that technology, to social media and its pervasive influence. The ways technology enhances and endangers our lives, the ways it facilitates free speech and free expression – and the ways it can so easily be used to stifle both – have not changed. The threats, the wonder, the opportunities and the anxieties of technology all continue to grow.
Our lives are inextricably intertwined with technology. It is used by those who rule and control us; it is used by each of us individually. Eight years ago, I wrote that if Orwell’s dystopian vision of a society so controlling, so completely invasive, so totally public that even certain thoughts are illegal is ever to be realized, it will be achieved through the application of advanced technology. Using technology, actions that previously even the most liberal of left-wing statists would reject out of hand as too much, too strong, or too severe can be made convenient, subtle and even palatable.
Technology makes censoring your Web access seamless and not at all intrusive – for the government simply makes sure you can’t see what it doesn’t wish you to see. Storm troopers with truncheons need not bang down your door and pry your mouse from your fingers. The same technology makes tracking your movements, your sexual partners and your sexual preferences instantaneous and undetectable. The aforementioned storm troopers with the aforementioned truncheons need not bang down your door and demand to know if you are using a condom.
The misguided principle that is universally applicable across all such scenarios, however, is this notion that preventing you from getting at something you shouldn’t see, hear, or do – or watching you do so and then punishing you after the fact – is in any way an effective strategy for law enforcement, for societal development, or for socio-political progress. In attempting to insert government in every aspect of our lives, those who support such infringements of your civil rights are missing the most critical fact of all. This fact is that technology alone cannot save us. Laws for the sake of laws will never alter the behavior of those who do not consider the long-term consequences of their actions.
On the other side of the coin, there is the individual. We have met the enemy and he is us – because a huge portion of the data envelope on you is created by you. You report on your movements through social media. You state your opinions and your beliefs. You create a data footprint that everyone from friends and family to prospective employers and government officials can analyze. Even if the government isn’t monitoring you directly, even if it isn’t controlling you through a smart electric meter or censorship of your Internet activities, you make it possible for anyone to peer into your life and make judgments about you. And in every sphere of human activity, there are willing fellow travelers who are only too happy to help our totalitarian government censor and control you. The owners of Twitter, Facebook and other prominent social media sites censor and mistreat conservatives in order to stifle and marginalize politically incorrect thought.
George Orwell’s prediction of thoughtcrime has come true. It simply isn’t as organized and centralized an effort as he predicted.
As I first wrote eight years ago, if we are truly to preserve and protect individual rights within a free society, and thus protect society itself, we must stop turning to technological solutions and start turning back to the United States Constitution. The Bill of Rights clearly protects us from government and private censorship; it also clearly preserves our rights to self-defense, prohibits unlawful and unreasonable searches and seizures of property, and stands as an ideological and legislative roadblock to almost all statist proposals (technologically facilitated or otherwise). The Bill of Rights also proclaims that all Americans have the expectation to equal public accommodation. Only strict adherence to the United States Constitution can preserve and protect us and our society – then, now and in an ever more technologically advanced future.
This is my last column addressing that very real threat and the very real need for a return to the principles of our republic’s founding documents. I’m leaving WND to pursue other interests. In saying farewell to you all, I would like to add that I’m proud of the body of work I’ve established here. It is my hope that in the last eight years, those of you reading this have been encouraged to look more closely at the technology in all our lives. If any of these columns have warned you, prompted you to take action, entertained you, or informed you, then I have done my job.
Goodbye, WND. I have enjoyed our time together immensely. As we all continue to walk into the technologically saturated future that awaits us, I will be as interested as ever to see what trends and innovations await us … even as I remain on guard for the problems and potential threats these may raise. I can only hope that you will do the same.