At the Huffington Post, I comment thread quite a lot. This is because it’s the one site in the US where there’s a decent chance others of like mind might be around – folks who are likely to know roughly where Europe is, and thus follow the url links I leave. But I have had my moments with Huffpost.
A year or so ago, I naively allowed the THP site to let me connect via Facebook. This was because it suddenly up and demanded my password for the first time since early 2009 – and I couldn’t remember it. Most of you will know what’s coming next, but for the record (1) every thread I made on the Post suddenly began appearing on Facebook….to the irritation of my friends; and (2) the following three weeks contained myriad attempts to get me to sign in with MySpace, Linkedin, Twitter…ad nauseam. I won’t tell you what a nightmare it was getting the Huffington Post marketing Moonies to let go; as Whistler said to Wilde, “There is nothing more boring than hearing about other people’s dreams”.
When Arianna Huffington sold THP to the real Moonies at AOL, the main criticism she got was from people moaning about her shrewd policy of paying journalists nothing to make her very rich. While I accept that this wasn’t her finest hour, a far more important issue of personal liberty is raised by the almost psychopathic willingness of pretty much everyone selling on the internet to leave their ethics behind before entering the building. For those who deride ‘regulation’ – the curiously dense regiments of City types who pronounce the word as if it might mean ‘infectious leprosy’ – I should point out that regulation is merely another word for law; and laws exist because far too many thrusters in our culture think themselves above it. The internet is the best and biggest example on the planet of what life would be like without regulation.
Of course, it would be excellent if we could have regulation without the sort of wombats who call everyone ‘colleague’, but as long as morality is seen by the geckos as ‘for wimps’, apparatchiks will be a necessary evil. And whether we like it or not, they are the lesser of a much greater evil: that of treating the individual as if he or she might be some sort of cross between a wheelie bin and a slave.
I realise this could easily be mistaken for the sort of thing former Lefties like me used to spout in the Sixties, but these days I see no conspiracy at all among the multinationals, globalist bankers, ISPs and superannuated geeks who make the customer’s life miserably frustrating. Rather, I see an anarchy of greedy buggers feeding off a populace too disenfranchised, insecure, dumbed down, idle and tentatively supine to get off its spreading arse to do something about it.
The Buddhists say we should either accept our circumstances or move away from them. The worst of all options in their view is to stay where one is and bitch about how ghastly it is. I accept this premise unreservedly: God knows, we have enough examples already of how easily scared the Controllers are by consumer pressure. But we must accept that control of the future lies in our hands – not in those of self-interested civil servants and muttering, unworldly geeks.
I am not suggesting direct action a la Leninspart, but rather the simple ruse of standing up for ourselves. Just think about this for a minute or two: most of the ISP sites priding themselves on their ability to communicate instantly by electronics will not allow any open email, telephonic or Twitter communication with anyone in the marketing, customer care, corporate finance or sales departments they control. No reason – not even a risible excuse – is offered for this. Our governments do not intervene to stop them from behaving in this manner. This is because our security agencies need the technology they hold.
And yet, and yet….there are billions of Us, and just a few hundred thousand of Them. Why do we feel that they have all the power, and we have none?
It’s not just the unthinking desire to order us about while stuffing an unacceptable pipe of acrid crap down our gagging throats. For me, it’s their incompetence. The inability to get passwords right, the unerring ease with which they insist they don’t know who we are – even though we can see our own usernames in the top right hand corner. The stupidity with which they say ‘a network cable is unplugged’ an hour after it became unplugged – at the very moment we plugged it back in again. Why are we so unable to take on such plonkers? Why do we content ourselves with this defeatist “it won’t make any difference”?
Stop moaning about it. Join me in demanding the right to complain: not just in blogs likes these, for blogs like these can be oh so easily ignored. Withdraw your consumption of what they have to sell, bombard your MPs with complaints, and clog their servers with anything and everything designed to make them listen. They have little or nothing to offer us – but we represent the only thing from which they can make money.
How much power do you want? There is no need to do anything illegal or violent: you need only withhold what they want. The avoidance of becoming a 21st Century serf is down to us, and us alone.