In the absence of a war economy, the great military corporations of the latter half of the 20th century, turned their plants, returning manpower and considerable resources to selling a peacetime economy. “We desperately need!” was replaced with “You desperately need!” The Western economies ploughed their swords into shares. Along with the seductive, pubertal explosion of modern advertising, they snared willing, war weary suckers. The Consumer was born.
Egregious selling techniques were the new weapons deployed to convince battle-fatigued citizens that buying a shiny new domestic product was no longer a utilitarian necessity but a share in the future of peace and security. It appeared to be a brave new world. It was certainly a profitable new world for a fistful of global corporations.
In the 21st century, we are all chasing the cyber dragon, drinking broadband booze from a fathomless bottle and turning isolation into a double plus bad society. Oh, and the online dealer never closes on Sunday.
Sadly behind much of this wondrous and grotesque, world-shrinking connectivity, are a new fistful of global corporations looking at their bottom line. While some of the main players manipulating this gadget gold rush, are busy avoiding tax in Luxembourg or offsetting profits in Caribbean cash havens, it brings to mind the theft of art, property and other precious resources from occupied countries that so often followed in the wake of a pillaging victorious army.
This time that army has marched smartly alongside us, with buzzing, brightly lit orbs, warbling like infants, releasing blue-tooth pheromones and harvesting us as profitable commodities without paying us a penny for our identities or choices.
For the moment half the world looks down on them, but they haven’t earned the name smartphone for nothing.
40 years ago today the first public mobile phone call was made by a senior engineer at Motorola. It was a breeze-block sized device. A big baby. But the latest smartphone can now look back at you and predict what you want it to do based on your facial expressions.
So, think of them now, as children. Look very angry, make it find the off switch with your baleful expression and with a really, really angry face get it to turn itself off for good.
It should remain on the virtual naughty step for ever where you can always look down on it and keep a beady eye on its mischievous intentions.
I recommend acting on the title of a BBC children’s programme of the 1980′s, which encouraged its viewers to do the decent thing. ”Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead?”