Have we been abducted or caught by The Net? I recently listened to Internet contra la Democracia, an episode of the podcast Días Extraños, de Santiago Camacho -don't miss the intro and his reflection on the Culture of Hate-. And, in doing so, right from its opening bars, it came to my mind a phrase that I even managed to pronounce with healthy and naive conviction at the dawn of this 21st century, when the Internet, at that time already with a certain force in countries that are usually at the forefront of technology, still in Spain, with few exceptions, it was something new that was here to stay, and those of us who were beginning to delve into that ocean of information and multimedia content, did not stop marveling at the overwhelming sensation of freedom and unlimited knowledge... just a click away. That phrase I was referring to at the beginning of this article was none other than something like "Internet, that ocean of freedom to which you can't put any gate, just like you can't put gates to the sea". The Network of networks, that is how this well-intentioned young lady was also known in its beginnings, who, with the passage of time, in just a decade, a somewhat wrinkled complexion, a furrowed brow and a voracious appetite began to be discerned between its thick layer of makeup, not only from a material point of view.
Fake News to F*ck You
The years went by, and that feeling of unlimited freedom that The Network provided in its initial phase, thanks also to anonymity and the still incipient legislation on the matter, gradually faded away. More and more personal data was needed to open a simple email account; more and more laws, regulations and directives were approved both by the states and by supranational entities, such as the European Union, always with the "good" and "sole" intention of protecting the user and preventing the Internet from becoming an anonymous and dark swamp for bad practices and new forms of crime; as usually happens in many areas of life, that original good intention would end up being used for something else.
On the other hand, if we look back at the beginning of the Internet, there were many and varied options to both find content and thave a simple email account. In other words, the game was played on multiple fields, on numerous courts, some better and more sophisticated, others more humble; It seemed that the Internet was going to provide a reinforcement of the freedoms of expression and access to information, as citizens became more connected. And, of course, the emergence of Social Networks would come to give that definitive push to the so-called Information Age, where it was going to become an indispensable tool in our daily lives, not only because of the innovative forms of communication, but also because having it, from the point of view of relevance, did not seem like an easy task when it came to catch for accurate and quality information in that ocean populated by fake news in which it was beginning to be very difficult to distinguish a whale from a shark, or a sardine from a mackerel; It floated the feeling that sometimes everything seemed like those giant schools of fish that in tenths of seconds go from being scattered to moving as a whole.
A School of Defenseless Fish at the Mercy of Hungry Sharks
And continuing with the marine fauna by way of comparison, we saw how the big fish gradually ate the small one, the technological giants gobbled up the dwarfs, and not so dwarfs, who still swarmed the Network, and that feeling of freedom was fading. A reference search engine, an online market of reference, a few social networks of reference... what was being played on several pitches, in a very short time became practically only one. In other words, it all started as that school of small fish that feels free and impregnable on the high seas but, suddenly, begins to be besieged by others of enormous dimensions, whose movements move and disperse it, taking its time, knowing that sooner or later... the spectacular banquet will arrive. The millions of users today connected to The Internet would be that school of fish that, little by little, they have been cornering, making them believe that being connected provides more freedom, independence and autonomy... when in reality, while we are dumbfounded with and trapped by technology, the gigantic fish has been creating the conditions, despite the immensity of that ocean which we navigate through believing ourselves to have a letter of marque, to disperse and cage the school of fish; in this case not to gobble it up, but to obtain material profit from it, on the one hand, and social control, on the other. Who wins? It's obvious. Those companies and governments; money, billions... and control. The power of these giants is so great that, although they neither want nor can swallow the entire school of fish, they have enough capacity to do so with certain governments. Who loses? Needless to say. What do we lose? Freedom. but to obtain from it material profitability, on the one hand, and social control, on the other. Who wins? It's obvious. Those companies and governments; money, billions... and control. The power of these giants is so great that, although they neither want nor can swallow the entire school of fish, they have enough capacity to do so with certain governments. Who loses? Needless to say. What do we lose? freedom.
Hooked on the Tech Drug
Once the citizenry is under its control, the technological oligarchy is not only in a position to send the message according to its interests, but also has another powerful tool that serves to increase its control and marginalize those who dissent from the officialdom: censorship. Beware! It is not just about censorship in the sense of wanting to publish a certain content and it never succeeds or, if it does, in a short period of time it is eliminated with the most outlandish excuses. If you take a careful look at the search engines, you will realize that it is no longer possible to find web pages or entries that appeared not long ago; not on the first screen or the second, maybe on the fifth or ninth, but they appeared. The justification for this absence of content is that it is "non-relevant" content; that is, a few, really very few, are deciding what is or is not relevant to billions of people around the planet. We are not only talking about opinion articles or information that, although controversial, have been duly contrasted; we are also referring to indisputable facts that are part of the History... and that, literally, are being swept off the Net; that is, the new generations, unless someone tells them, will be born in a present with a reset past and a future that some claim to be not carried out by the human being, but by artificial intelligences at the service of trans-human beings or, who knows, vice versa. Whatever it is, what unfortunately is already a reality is that for these generations, if something is not on the Internet, it is simply because it does not exist.
Where, then, is that ocean of freedom and reinforcement of the democratic values that a priori brought the Internet as standard? How is it possible that someone has managed to put gates to the sea? Perhaps because it is not really necessary to put any gate... as long as it can be managed to corner and put the school of fish in a cage, where it can be fed or deprived of food, at convenience. And that food, or that drug, is none other than the technological dependence.
Internet, the 'Net' of 'nets'. Never better said.
P.D. For some time now, a kind of motto or slogan has been swarming in my head. So, in these times and with the abuses still being perpetrated against the Spanish educational system, which lacks the encouragement of critical thinking in its foundations, I wish to proclaim from the rooftops: more Philosophy and less technology.