My hairdresser and I have formed a relationship away from work. It means that she feels comfortable to share little titbits of data with me: one that was a particular surprise is that she had trouble with depth perception. That means, if someone was to hit a tennis ball at her from distance, she’d be unable to judge where it landed. I’ve tried to imagine what this must be like to have to cope with mentally, and suspect it is a bit stressful.
Occasionally, when online, people will share memes that make me realise a) just how young they must be and b) just how old I am. It’s not a problem insofar as gauging how far into the past or future other people are related to me. I like to not judge at all, if I can help it, rather assess each person met on merit. It is up to them to show me who they are.
Grasping how people operate online however can be a little more difficult.
There have always been people who think that ‘online’ is the real danger, ever since Usenet allowed people to communicate without external regulation. There will always be outliers, and despite what Malcolm Gladwell might want to tell you their success is often defined by not being the person who is easy to profile, quantify or indeed locate.
Ironically, in these days when enemies are in plain sight and have no need to hide, highlighting those pedalling the low level dopamine hits to the masses is very easy. You don’t need to see either in front or behind to grasp the dangers: one could argue it is why government won’t regulate institutions it knows have at least some nominal value to them in keeping control.
The bigger enemy to freedom right now, ironically, is information.
My family love to mock my paranoia over tracking: yesterday, the world will know I did a virtual bike ride in my shed and then a real life one down the Thames Estuary. In the latter case, it will be obvious I navigated a portion of sea wall that has been ‘nominally’ closed due to being unsafe. There were no laws broken, but there’s enough private property in that area that had I strayed into it, Strava would have recorded it.
The ignorance most people hold over exactly what they wear and how it tracks them remains eye-wateringly painful. Seasoned protestors know how to disappear, which is why facial recognition software has become as big a topic of discussion as it undoubtedly is. The irony of having to wear masks in a place such as shopping centres where retailers employ such devices to prevent theft will not have passed many people by.
How far you can see entirely depends on what you’re capable of focussing on at any one time.
The longer COVID goes on (and no, Boris, this won’t be over in time for your no-Deal Brexit) the easier it is to see those people who are adapting, and those who face extinction. The latter won’t go quietly, or without a lot of noise and mess. Letting them go would be a lot easier if influencers stop pointing and laughing at the death throes.
Real cancel culture ought to mean silence: you just stop talking about people, ignore their desperate pleas to be relevant, and then watch them tank off their metaphorical cliffs without any more need for propulsion. That’s my plan going forward: lift up the voices that I feel matter, amplify the people who deserve to be heard. Seeing everything is sometimes disadvantageous, but not right now.
Accurate depth perception has become a part of my arsenal.