Thursday, September 3, 2015

Boomer to Boomlet

I’m a Baby-Boomer living in a Millennium and Boomlet world. Translation of the generational lingo: I’m 50 years old and most of how today’s world operates has been dictated by those 18-40.  Superficially that means that we’re all navigating a connected world where information is available at the touch of a finger or a query to Siri. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life is demonstrably better with the device I walk around with day in and day out. It also means that there’s more of an openness about our lives thanks to the Internet. There’s a huge benefit to that – and some consequences as well. Millions of people discovered that the hard way.

In mid-July 2015 “a group calling itself ‘The Impact Team’ stole the user data of Ashley Madison, a commercial website billed as enabling extramarital affairs” according to Wikipedia. A few weeks later they “dumped” millions of records onto the internet for all to see. The media went crazy – as did the public. There’s a website where you can have an extramarital affair? OMG – there’s a website where you can have an extramarital affair! And there’s nearly 40 million subscribers! Reports breathlessly hypothesized about a “tsunami” of divorce cases heading to the courts. Meme’s were created.

AP reports that a lot of those accounts are fictitious. Patheos reported that 400 Christian church leaders were expected to resign after their names were discovered on the company’s roster. The company’s CEO resigned in part because of the discrepancy between promising to delete user data for an additional fee and having the data preserved, hacked and distributed. The BBC reported August 31st that in spite of all of the problems hundreds of thousands of women are joining the platform and that week sent 2.8 million messages.

For the likes of Christian and reality TV bully Josh Duggar, the discovery of his account feels appropriate given the massive level of hypocrisy involved. For others, less so.

As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.

We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.
Consequently, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.

I’m a person of faith and believe in the Ten Commandments. Number seven states unequivocally: “You shall not commit adultery.” Not a lot of wiggle room there.
This is not the first example where there’s a conflict between my religious beliefs and my political / societal beliefs.

In this case there’s even an additional conflict. Transparency is vital for a democracy. Edward Snowden may have broken the law, but he nearly single handedly kept the constitution relevant in these times of terror-phobia. The Wikileaks of various issues have been vital to people around the world being informed of how their rights are systematically ignored.

There is a difference in leaking data that has been classified in order to hide illegal/immoral activity and the release of records of people who considered and maybe explored  having sex with somebody other than their spouse.

It’s too Pollyanna to hope that leakers and hackers would differentiate between information that educates and enlightens and information that exposes and embarrasses. Aside from the fact that technology just doesn’t work that day – what I might distinguish as educational somebody else might swear is embarrassing. It’s a rabbit hole.

Generation Z – also known as the Boomlets are coming of age. Born after 2001 they have never known a world without computers or being connected – and and at age 3 are leaving behind traditional toys and gravitating towards computers and devices. If what I’ve seen in my 50 years is anywhere near what they will – it’s going to be an extraordinary century. Let’s hope that they can figure how to protect democracy, shun secrecy and keep a modicum of their privacy intact. My generation has failed.

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