Friday, November 18, 2005

"Your Tech Is Trying To Kill You"

First, let me say that in all my years online -- and I've been online since about 1991 or 92 -- I've spent a robust amount of time perusing items of, shall we say, an "adult" or "provocative" nature. As regular visitors to these pages know, I enjoy the sight of a woman who possesses the attributes shallow men prize.

In all those years, I have never, to my knowledge, come across a depiction of child pornography, rape or bestiality. Ever.

Not once.

Of course, the people at Action News and Eyewitness News and Street Beat On the Street News or whatever can't seem to turn on a computer without immediately stumbling into a deadly viper's nest of sordid, violent, illegal, immoral images and come-ons. It is Tijuana times Detroit to the power of Bangkok where they're surfing, apparently, and you can practically feel the ooze coming out of their monitor when they slavishly cover every deliciously evil byte (for sweeps week, of course.)

See, there's nothing that TV news loves more than to tell you that tech will hurt you. For an industry built on tech, that relies on tech, that transmits via tech, for some reason, TV news loathes tech.

You see it all the time:

"Coffeehouse hotspots and the theft of your personal information."

"Your cell phone is toasting your brain."

"Blackberry Thumbs: Are you at risk?"

"Chat Room Perverts: Is your child at risk?"

"Video Game Wrist: Is your wrist at risk?"

I know someone who won't allow cordless phones or wireless routers in his house because he saw on the news that the RF energy could give his children brain tumors. I don't have the heart to explain to him how many hundreds of times more powerful his microwave ovens are.

And my personal favorite: the constant drumbeat about the DANGERS of using your credit card online. Oh, yes, it's oh so dangerous to use your credit card in a secure site with encryption... but it's safe as mother's milk to hand it over to the sullen, disaffected young man who just spit in your salad and let him take it in the back room for ten minutes or so and do God-knows-what with it. What could go wrong with that plan?

There is a psychologist -- whom I won't name because he/she might be an irresponsible, opportunistic quack and I don't want to get sued -- who makes his/her living running in front of TV cameras every time there's a new tech innovation. Whenever the local news or the national news or a newsmagazine does a story claiming that there is some psychological harm behind some new tech device, there is this psychologist, providing the lone voice of doom, the only person making the specious claim on which the entire phony story is based.

Hey, he/she gets on TV a lot. And that's what matters.

Because the truth is TV news doesn't really hate tech.

They just love scaring you. And they know how to do it.

By exploiting the things you don't understand.

If they told you your umbrella or your toaster oven or your wicker magazine basket were out to get you, you'd laugh and tell them they were out of their fucking minds. But when they exploit your mistrust of the gadgets you've come to rely on without fully understanding -- the ones that freeze and crash without warning -- they are cynically exploiting you.

So the question must be asked: Where have the media been on rootkit? Now that there is a real story to tell, why have they been so silent? This should be right up their alley! "Popular music CD's install harmful software on your computer. We'll tell you which ones and how to get rid of it at eleven."

But nothing.

Sony has a patch available for rootkit, which may or may not work, as Technology Watch tries to explain. Have you seen anything on the news about this?

Neither have I.

But you can bet when the Xbox 360 comes out, there will be medical experts galore who will be all over the news to tell us how dangerous the controller is, how dangerous the colors are, the violence is, the music is, the addiction to media, the blah de blah de blah...

Until the next gadget to fear comes out.

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