Last year I got an email from a young gent in Russia. He appears to be part of a branch of our family tree that we had lost track of since my father's family's return from exile to Siberia way back in the early years of the last century. Yesterday, I got an email from a man and his wife in Germany with the same surname as ours. He appears to have a connection with an uncle of mine who was killed in Europe in World War II. In both cases, there are a lot of gaps that we are trying to sort out, but with a surname as unusual as mine there has to be a connection somewhere, even if it isn't exactly where we think it is.
Whenever something like this happens, I can't help but be astounded at the technological marvels we enjoy. The World Wide Web, email, instant messaging, video conferencing, affordable desk-top computers, software to do everything but groom your cat and take your dog for a walk are but a few things that didn't exist just three decades or so ago. These inventions have been a tremendous boon to us all, at least so far as they are being used constructively and productively. There are, of course, many abuses possible with these inventions and there are miscreants everywhere who can't wait to create new ways of fleecing us of our assets or otherwise complicating our lives. Spammers, for instance. Phishers. Virus programmers. Those are just some of the more obvious bozos that we could really do without.
What scares me more is how our governments put these powerful new tools to work. Monitoring and controlling us all is easier than ever. Cameras hooked up to computers are everywhere. Our telephone calls and emails are never safe from being monitored. In Canada, we don't have quite the surveillance-obsessed atmosphere that is rife in the U.S., at least not yet, but when it comes, who is going to fight against it?
We are a world of pussies. We accede to every official demand in the name of security and safety. Balance is gone. We are very much living George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four, but no-one cares. In fact, ask the teenager in your home if he or she has ever heard of that book. I doubt it.
I love today's technology. I don't always like the way it is being used or the potential it holds to enslave us completely.