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By: Eli Bowman
AUTHOR’s NOTE: Given the current climate of privacy invasions by the hands of governments, it’s easy to predict that, in time, the internet will be a place without privacy. If you knew that everything you put on the internet was going to be public, would you continue to use it the way you do today? How many people would log off for good? How many people wouldn’t care? It is in the spirit of this conclusion that this journal entry from the future was created.
I keep thinking back to the downfall of the internet and have to put my thoughts on paper. I don’t want to forget how I’m feeling right now…so I’ll begin.
We stood in awe and wonder at the instant and complete global connectivity presented to us. The internet was here. The World Wide Web. It was everything to us. We all aspired to log on and be part of the net, putting our most private of business there in the name of progress, exploring the endless possibilities.
It became second nature to us. In our minds it was the first real innovation that eliminated borders to everyone and everything…and so we all jumped in. What began as a simple pleasure, an AOL chat room in the evening at dial-up speed, quickly evolved into constant real-time connectivity from multiple devices in our homes, workplaces, houses of worship, and local businesses. It was in our pockets, in our ears, on our wrists, in front of our eyes, and even inside our bodies. The web was as much a way of life as waking up in the morning to a risen sun. There was no telling where reality ended and virtual reality began.
Then one seemingly ordinary day humanity’s last semblance of innocence was violently ripped away when the internet finally became totally public. The world wide web was now the wide open web. The whole of connected humanity stood with mouths agape when we discovered how everything we have ever dared to put on it was no longer private. Every word, every photo, every video, every email, every message, every gif, every meme, every like, every share…every single moment recorded into its digital archives…was now available to the highest bidder.
The rush to delete Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other accounts crashed the entire internet, because at the same exact time, the more despotic half of the people were searching through the pictures and emails of their friends and, especially, their enemies. They were searching for anything juicy enough to download and keep, for whatever fit their motive. Eventually people stopped trusting people, and society kind of stood still for several months, just…waiting for something.
We still haven’t recovered. I wonder if we ever will.
We always knew it was a possibility, but, in order to assuage our darkest fears, we labeled any who made it plain that we would all be sorry one day as tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorists…but they ended up being right. That’s when the retrospection really began.
Nobody ever spoke of it publicly for fear of sounding irrational and ignorant, but we all knew, deep down, that this was not only a possibility, but an inevitability. We all knew that somehow, someday, everything we put on the internet would be public. We all knew it!
We just didn’t care.
Organizations like Wikileaks, Guccifer, and many of the factions that hacked the world under the banner of Anonymous were only pawns in the game. Most of us would have never guessed that our own governments would be the ones orchestrating the leaks. How else could they show off their abilities to other nations?
We were an otherwise free people made un-free at the hands of our protectors…and we let them do it…because we were happy to trade freedom for likes. We were happy to trade liberty for clicks. We were happy to surrender our rights for shares.
Looking back it’s no wonder they called it the net. It’s no wonder they called it the web.
– Eli Bowman