Said Garcia's Blog

The Cyberpunk Dystopia


I think at this point many of us have realized that we are currently living in a cyberpunk dystopia. We are under constant surveillance by both corporations and governments through the technology we use every day. The data they collect is then used against us in many malicious ways. Large tech companies have become so powerful they can effect the course of world politics however they see fit. We have less and less control of our online presence. It’s a living nightmare and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

The internet has taken the world by a storm. In it’s infancy it was the wild west, vast expanses of virgin land just there for the taking. Instead of stale samey social media profiles everyone had personal websites full of personal expression. Instead of messaging apps there was irc. You weren’t constantly being tracked and monitored. There were no bloated javascript webapps. Everything was simple and to the point. Unfortunately I never experience these early stages of the internet and nowadays it is far cry from what it used to be. It’s seen only as a vector for companies to peddle their products and services to you, all other functions are secondary.

But how did we get here? Well, because people are lazy. We all gave up a lot of freedom and privacy for the sake of convenience. Making a personal website is easy but it’s easier to just create a Facebook profile. Video hosting can be expensive but Youtube provides free hosting. Going to the store takes time and they might not have what you need but Amazon has everything you might want and the products are delivered right to your door, how convenient! Not only did they make things more convenient they made the alternatives unviable. A technology which is decentralized by design has become more and more centralized all because we want to do things without any effort. But there is no free lunch, you pay for this convenience with your data and your freedom.

People have come to realize how bad things have gotten but it’s already too late to do anything about it… right? I don’t think so, it’s only too late if we remain passive and complacent. There remains a glimmer of hope. With the rise of free and open source software many of these things have become convenient and easy to do independently or in a decentralized way. Various federated social medias have appeared and are every bit as easy to use as any other. Video hosting platforms like peer tube make self hosting video easy and convenient. Hosting your own website is easier than ever with many great tutorials online. Many alternative privacy focused search engines have appeared. Not to mention all the extensions and third party websites that strip away all the tracking and advertising that is prominent on social medias and websites like Youtube.

So if these technologies exist then why are we still in this mess? Simply because everyone wants to be where the people are and right now the people are at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin, Indeed, Reddit, Twitch, etc. It’s not easy to convince people to move to a less popular website/app. Specially if they are a “content creator” and want their work to reach the largest number of people. Things won’t get better until a critical mass is achieved.

It’s not too late to break free. I think everyone should start taking the necessary steps towards being more independent online. You don’t have to abstain from everything but you should access and consume the content on your own terms, not theirs.