For those of you who are bracing for an earth-shattering announcement, remain calm. I am still an optimist, and I still search long and hard for the bright side in all things and most people. The cynic in me is growing, but that’s in reaction to then trends I’ve observed over time. Don’t worry, I will not speak of, nor am I going to introduce statistical analysis supported by charts and graphs – it’s Monday and I still recall the wounds inflicted upon me for speaking of math/maths on Mondays.
No, these are casual observations, the kind most of you have made. I’m just collecting them and annotating them here as a means to vent. If necessary, I’ll blame several readers. That seems to be the trend today – take bad news and twist it to be someone’s fault. That’s the first trend that’s causing me to be cynical.
You see, I’m one of those people who, when faced with larger than life concerns like the economy, illnesses that might become epidemics that might become pandemics, etc. I look for facts. Some of you are old enough to remember facts. For you younger folks, facts were indisputable, undeniable proven and accepted truths. Really, we used to have such things. There weren’t your facts and my facts, they were just the facts. As Walter Cronkite used to say, “That’s the way it is.”
Some of you stirred these feelings in me with your reaction to the carved-in-stone motto of the Dallas Morning News. Imagine, presenting facts on all sides of an argument so that intelligent people could decide for themselves. These days, if we’re presenting facts, we only present the ones that we hope will bring you to our side. And, if you’ll forgive me the mathematical reference, the our-side vs. your-side is binary. Yea or nay. No middle ground. No wavelengths between the endpoints on the spectrum.
I know, I’m drifting toward math and science terms – I’m sorry – sometimes I can’t help myself.
To keep this from turning toward the political, I’m also cynical about business, technology, healthcare, state and local government and our education system.
If you think back to my January WATWB post, you might recall that I wrote about new laws that might help diminish the number of robo-calls we receive. While I remain optimistic that we might be able to solve this problem, I have to recognize that the entities demanding a solution and those tasked with solving the problem, are the same entities that created the problem. They would include (at least in the US) the federal government, the telecommunication industry and the coneheads at various technology companies.
The federal government broke up the monopoly that was AT&T
The federal government smashed the pieces of AT&T (Baby Bells) into smaller pieces and required the Baby Bells to accommodate the “competitive local exchange carriers” CLECs. Among the accommodations was the requirement to put through every call.
Meanwhile the coneheads were inventing myriad ways of placing phone calls for free or nearly so and part of that process allows people using their technology to “spoof” the originating number.
So, despite the fact that your phone company has always been able to know that the number being passed along to your caller-ID is not the number the call is coming from – they had to put it through.
By the way, if you’re not ready to be cynical, neither iteration of robo-call laws apply to political candidates.
The last thing I’ll bring up today where it’s wise to be cynical, is the so-called Internet-based service industry. There are many ways in which these services abuse the historic seller-buyer relationship, but the ones that make me cynical are the ones that are aimed at amassing huge amounts of data about us. These include, but are certainly not limited to:
Smartphone apps and the phones themselves that track location data when it isn’t necessary to the function of the app.
Discount travel sites that seek to know when, how, why, to where and for how long we will travel.
Search engines, news aggregating apps, streaming TV services and smart-TVs themselves that collect the wide range of subjects we are interested in. Note, unless you’ve told it not to, your smart TV sends an image of what you’re watching to its mothership every few seconds.
Not the latest example of this, but one that is making its wanna-be presence known more and more often lately, are the apps, add-ons and websites that will check Amazon (or anybody else’s) prices for the thing you’re about to buy and alert you to better deals. How cool is that? Oh, wait, that means this “free” app knows everything I am thinking about buying. What do you think they do with that data? Even if that’s a rhetorical question, you know I’m going to answer – they package that data about you and they sell it – and there are lots of buyers, including agencies within the federal government. If you want to be
scared educated about this vast industry, read this article.
As another TV personality was famous for saying “Let’s be careful out there!”