Sunday, March 14, 2021

Our Lives in the 21st Century

 What is the main change over the last several decades - let’s say the difference between life in the 21st century vs. life in the 20th century? 
The widespread belief is that we have progressed, that we are much better off in the present century than we were in the previous one. This is widely attributed to communication technology, primarily through computers and other forms of electronic technology. What a crock! 
The opposite is true: today’s technology is unbelievably intrusive and invasive. It assaults us and hounds us 24/7: 
Most of the “communication” we receive consists of telephonic Robocalls, most e-mail is spam, most of the Internet consists of advertisements. 
We receive threatening messages alleging fraudulent charges to our accounts, we have to change passwords to protect ourselves, we get daily pop-ups demanding that we update or upgrade our programs and download new apps. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and all the others hound us relentlessly. We have to delete hundreds of e-mails, texts and phone messages daily. 90% of our snail mail consists of ads. Our privacy disappeared years ago. And then there are the even more serious problems, such as malware and other nefarious invasions of our machines. 

All of this comes from the private sector - from Silicon Valley and other giants (Google, Apple, Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Verizon, ATT, etc) to the thousands of businesses worming their way into our lives. 

The only force that continues to work FOR us, that HELPS when we need it, is the government, from Social Security to Medicare, to PERS, to Obamacare, to the thousands of other necessary social programs, including, yes, the IRS. The government is the only entity that isn’t there to rip us off, to invade our privacy, to defraud us. 

I suppose I am a luddite. I suffer from what ails most old people: Difficulty adapting to social change. But I’ll say this anyway: Two generations ago, life was normal. We dealt with our financial issues, our practical everyday problems - car and home repairs, bills, travel, illness, etc. - calmly and without much interference. We were not “communicating” for hours every day - e-mailing, being on telephone hold for hours, talking to machines instead of humans. We were not disturbed dozens of times every day over our phones and computers. Most of our communications were with relatives, friends, people we loved, people we knew, and substantive person-to-person contacts about our work and our business, not garbage. 

But let me end on a positive note: 

The way the country is handling the last chapter of the pandemic gives reason for hope: We have given out more than 110 million vaccines so far - that’s 1 shot for every 3 Americans already. The good guys won the election. By “good guys” I mean the side (1) with good moral values and the side that is (2) intelligent and effective. Democrats and the Biden administration pursue economic equality, social justice and well-being for the largest possible portion of the American people. Furthermore, they are hard at work to solve the country’s dual crisis - Covid and the economy. The Republicans have no agenda, other than raging over trivial “cultural” issues and pursuing power for its own sake. 

For the time being, sanity has (precariously) regained the upper hand in this country. The $1.9 trillion dollar Covid rescue package squeaked by. A majority of the country has returned to the correct and commonsensical proposition that the government plays a central role in the well-being, health and prosperity of a society and its people, and that a democratically elected government is to be trusted. 

© Tom Kando 2021;All Rights Reserved