Information Overload

Very frequently, it seems, the contingent of Paultards [1] on my Facebook friends list has some kind of conspiratorial moment about all of the information being gathered by the government on various matters, whether that includes millions of video cameras or all the data collected from airport scanners and what not on implants and so on. What I am about to say does not suggest that some of the incessant data-collecting behaviors of our governments are not intrusive, but rather to show a practical application of the information overload our societies and our governments appear to be embarked upon.

On a practical level, the amount of information our governments can collect about us is astounding, whether that means our bank/atm transactions, our e-mails, our cell phone calls, our blogs, our walks in public within sight of spy cameras, and so on. The fact is, if there are 300 million or so Americans, only so many of them can work at making sense of that information, and so there is a practical limit to how much the government actually knows about us in particular as opposed to the possible amount they could know if they investigated us thoroughly.

And therein lies the rub. If you want to stay off the grid you have to work very hard, either at disguising yourself, or avoiding too many public places, or using cash transactions instead of using debit cards and what not, and not using e-mail addresses or writing online in ways that point to your real identity. In short, if you don’t want the government collecting information about you, you have to act like a criminal. That would automatically make you suspicious in the eyes of those collecting information.

As far as I see it, I don’t think there’s anything that interesting that someone can find out about me by spying on me. My purchasing habits may show an alarming proclivity for strawberry dewberry cookies and orange BIG soda, or a fondness for basil-leaf chicken, but I hardly think that is a matter of national security. My thoughts both on conspiracy theorists as well as intrusive and insecure governments are both pretty public and open, as is my willingness to openly tell both sides to their faces that they are acting in highly insecure and paranoid ways for reasons that deeply puzzle and concern me.

The massive amount of information collected about everyone makes it harder to properly understand what anyone is up to. That is the price of our human limitations. Greater options means our understanding of the whole picture is more fragmented and shallow. At best you can hope for patterns that trigger more intense observations within all of that information. However, those patterns are not likely to be triggered by fairly ordinary people like myself who have no inclination to overthrow governments or engage in violent resistance. In short, because I know that no government on earth has any reason to feel afraid of me, I do not feel afraid of any government, even if I am concerned (and not without reason) that if a government feels insecure enough that they attack people like me that there is no defense under heaven against such a situation. People are nothing if not irrational. All I can do is be as rational and non-conspiratorial as possible.

If you are a fairly ordinary person, or even only a mildly unusual person (I consider myself to be quirky but hardly unusual enough in any dangerous ways to draw attention from the high and mighty), you simply blend in the patterns, not showing anything unusual or dangerous. As I have already mentioned, it is the desire not to be monitored that usually suggests that one has something to hide. Most people who act as if they have nothing to hide really do have nothing to hide. Those who do become like the fellow who attempted to sodomize the statue of Tommy the Trojan, not realizing his actions (I don’t even know the word to describe someone attempting to fornicate with a statue) were broadcast to the world. Most of us aren’t quite that foolish, I would hope.

I would like to ask those paranoid friends and acquaintances of mine why they are so concerned about the government looking for them? Do they plot against those authorities appointed by God and seek violent overthrow of the authorities over them? Do they willfully transgress the laws by growing or trafficking illegal drugs? Do you attempt to cheat on your taxes to avoid paying those dues that must be rendered to Caesar? If you do not do these things, then what do you have to fear? I do none of these things, and so I do not fear anything whatsoever (though I would prefer it if I had received my W-2s from the US so I could have already filed my taxes).

The point is simple. I am a patriotic, generally law-abiding citizen with pro-social tendencies. Whatever opposition I have toward my government or any other government under which I live and travel, I keep it to rhetoric protected by free speech and seek the peaceful conversion of others to right patterns of thinking and behaving, which would then translate into proper social and political behaviors. I believe that society must be reformed from the inside out, not overthrown and ruled by the top down, at least not by fallible and mortal human beings [2].

Given this, I do not fear what man or man’s governments can do. As I am not a tax evader, nor am I a rebel or an insurrectionist, nor am I a terrorist or a drug grower or trafficker, I see no reason why government would have to be hostile to me in any way whatsoever. As a good Christian (see Romans 13:1-7), I offer no threat whatsoever to a godly government, and only the threat of providing a godly counterexample to those governments that are ungodly. And if my religious beliefs and my political beliefs (which flow closely from my religious beliefs) land me in trouble, I will freely confess my beliefs before kings and governors and generals and judges, and let God’s will be done for His purposes, to His glory. Why should I be afraid? What can man do to separate me from the love and protection of God? And if God wills that I should perish, why would I wish to cling to this mortal life?

So, to make a long story short, I do not believe that I act in such ways that would draw the attention of hostile authorities, assuming in the first place that such authorities would be hostile to me (and I see no reason why they should be hostile to me whatsoever, unless they are as paranoid and insecure as the ranters in my wide circle of acquaintance, in which case there is no rational way to show them that they have nothing to fear from me). Given that no one has any need to fear or hate me, I do not fear or hate others, even those leaders and governments with whom I greatly disagree with. After all, given the mass of information that is collected by governments about everyone, I don’t know what would draw their attention to little ol’ me. It concerns me that others are not so rational in their understanding, for paranoia draws far more hostility from others than honest and sincere openness.

[1] Paultard is a pejorative expression used to describe a conspiracy-minded wingnut who seems to invariably support Ron Paul. This person may or may not rant about chemtrails and Monsanto while wearing a tinhat.

[2] That is, I do not believe that any direct and forcible imposition of top-down rule, excepting that of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, would be acceptable or beneficial.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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1 Response to Information Overload

  1. Pingback: Samizdat | Edge Induced Cohesion

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