Localism and Technology

Local Matters Technology Article

Localism and Technology

I come from a background of technology, as does almost any person in England who grew up in the twenty-first century. I still remember when I was first given the family computer, or when I got my first laptop. I cherish the memories of getting my first gaming PC, or when I discovered Linux, Cryptography and TOR. I spend my days working in the IT Industry, only to come home and learn more. 

When I was younger I saw technology as an undisputedly good thing. However, as I got older I became a large advocate for privacy, after seeing abuses of governments and despicable acts of selfish corporations around the world. I then learnt of the environmental damage, social damage, violation of rights and how the industry funds globalism.

Modern technology has brought us so much. You are reading this article, potentially being exposed to new ideas through technology right now. During the current pandemic you will have used it to keep in touch with friends and family. It’s allowed us to further our lives, making them easier and more enjoyable. But this is not without its costs.

Technology and Globalism

Globalisation, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets”. [1]

As Localists we vehemently oppose this; we believe nations, regions and communities should support themselves and their interests. All peoples should be able to decide their own futures, without hindrance or interference from international corporations. After all, there are multiple ways of being human – civilisations vary across the globe, and none is better than one another. Different groups are not “inferior” or “superior”, they are simply different. It is wrong that cheap labour is exploited by the corporations of wealthier nations. The market economy puts expansive conglomerates before people, and the free flow of capital causes untold damage. Much of the globalisation taking place today simply would not be possible without technology. Due to its nature, be it mobile phones, computers, Microsoft Windows or your camera, all come from large transnational organisations, which makes them inherently reliant on globalism. They do not care about you. You are a consumer. They do not care about your community or your country. They will exploit everything and everyone this world has to offer in pursuit of capital gain, and there is no end in sight for their massification. They then use this money to further their aims, generating more capital without considering the individual, or their contributions to society aside from economic gain.

Without computers, the international banking cartels, who create profit from manipulating money and taking advantage of the population, would practically collapse overnight. Without technology, your every move could not be tracked and sold by corporations for profit. Technology is marketed as if it is always working in our interests, but the habits of massive businesses prove otherwise.

Ultimately, I am not condemning the entire industry, and I am not advocating that all technology is scrapped, and we all move into the forest living off of gooseberries. However, we should make well informed decisions regarding the personal use of technology, and we should all be aware of its drawbacks. We have become reliant on these devices, but at what cost? As someone who is passionate about technology, I must confess that I believe the cost to be higher than many people are aware of. 

Technology and Consumerism

Localism promotes sustainable living, which is the antithesis of the consumerism brought to us by vast corporations. Consumerism does not make us sincerely happy; it is an empty fulfilment – temporary and meaningless. Consumerism is the primary driver of global wealth inequality, as it fuels the 1% at the expense of the 99%.  

Technology companies, through very successful marketing, play on human psychology to manipulate our consumption habits. When a person buys something new or receives a ‘like’ on Facebook, they receive a small dopamine boost making them feel good. Corporations abuse this to make you crave the latest technology for fear of being ‘out of date’, because as social creatures, humans are biologically wired to fit in. They deliberately implement software ‘upgrades’ that break your phone after two years so that you are forced to buy a new model. For example, this year Apple is due to pay a settlement of up to 500 million USD in response to updates which intentionally slowed down older iPhones. [2] This is a commonly-used tactic called ‘planned obsolescence’ used by tech companies in order to drive sales of newer product models. [3]

Not only is the constant reproduction and re-purchasing of new phones destructive to the environment; it is destructive to people as well. Those who can afford to keep up with these changes waste vast amounts of time and money on empty consumption, with nothing meaningful or even tangibly new in return. Those who can’t afford to keep up with these absurd changes then feel left out, especially children. This system is clearly cruel and there must be more direct criticism of it so that we can hold these abusive corporations to account.

Social media companies, the most vile, wicked and despicable companies within the industry, manipulate human psychology more than anyone else. As previously discussed, people receive a dopamine boost from new things. Online social networks play on this more than anyone else by constantly feeding us new information which does not reflect real communities. This only serves to socially atomise people instead of strengthen the human connections, which these companies claim to do. We should not buy into this. We must develop genuine relationships with people around us, including and especially family members. Sincere relationships and heartfelt social connections are the truly valuable and essential connections of human social existence.

Technology and the Environmental Damage

Technology also has an interesting relationship with the environment. While it is undeniable that improvements in technology have brought us positive ecological tools such as clean energy and sustainable products, these solutions would not be so necessary without vast over-consumption of resources and our reliance on technology and globalism. Everyone today in England is at least vaguely aware of the harms of energy consumption and of the excessive use of plastics today. However, we must shine a light on the damages of disposing this stuff. Once wealthy nations are finished with their computers, they are often transported halfway across the world, where the computers are then dumped in the streets for incredibly poor children to play on. [4] A cursory look at global e-waste dumping shows that this is not an exaggeration and is clearly not a sustainable approach.

Computers contain rare materials that not only cause untold destruction to the environment when they are mined; the materials go on to leak into the ground and are poisoning the earth as you read this. Through the consumerism and globalisation of wealthier nations, others suffer. Nobody should have to suffer our greed and superfluous consumerism. Consequently, we should avoid these irresponsible consumer habits and seek to reuse and prolong the life of our products. When we replace our belongings, this should be done safely and in an environmentally-friendly way. For example, we can give our old PCs to a friend for reuse, or take it to an organisation which responsibly disposes of the equipment. I frequently encounter people who do not know that you cannot bin most electronic devices, in order to prevent the aforementioned materials from causing irreversible damage to the environment. 

Dispose of your technology ethically. In England, most council-run Waste Disposal Centres  will take e-waste for free and deal with it properly. This must become common knowledge for the sake of our environment.

Technology and the Damage to People

Technology has caused untold damage to people throughout the world.

Technology has damaged people through privacy violations by governments and companies in bed with each other. Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and countless other accomplices are intertwined with GCHQ, other elements of the state and their American counterparts. They will stop at nothing. Even if you turn off the GPS on your phone, your every move is tracked through cell towers. [5] When you have two tabs open on a browser, technology allows them to communicate and your data is sold between pages. [6] Every YouTube video you watch is collated to target ads around your interests in order to simply sell more stuff to you. You can learn to defend against this at pro-privacy websites such as PrivacyTools.io.

As corporations and governments get in bed with each other, we are swiftly heading towards a soft techno-totalitarian world, and due to our infatuation with technology in addition to our unwillingness to begin to limit our consumption, we remain powerless and at the mercy of our governments and the corporations they serve. These invasions of privacy are largely for the aims of hypercapitalism, and for advertisements which further fuel your consumption. All people who are aware of this moral corruption must use ad-blockers, such as uBlock Origin. Puri.sm also provides great methods to avoid the digital corporationism.

Technology also violates workers’ rights. Throughout Europe technology has largely improved the working standards of your average worker, providing your job has not already been replaced by a machine. [7] However, this is not the case in the developing world. Localists cannot support liberalism’s obsession with the free market, which leads economically-wealthier nations to exploit the workers of economically-poorer nations. If a nation’s wealth was measured in happiness, how poor would we all be?

Solutions

Although people will not stop buying phones, as we have grown to rely on them, we must consider our actions and our choices. The government must be forced to speak out on this issue which they have thus far been completely silent on. Regulations must be put in place in order to dissuade, and in some cases ban, the importation of technology and products which do not conform to English labour regulations. Among other reasons, this is a strong argument in favour of significantly higher taxation on imports. This can only come from agitation and activism, which begins with you and I as individuals, whose first step is to become aware, a springboard from which we can apply political pressure in order to effect these necessary changes to our society, in addition to a transformed social culture which opposes the globalist system of cheap foreign imports for the benefit of consumerism, at the cost of not only the consumer, but of the employees who are paid less than a fair wage.

In conclusion, the benefit to society and people which technology provides are just as undeniable as its attacks on our environment and ultimately our perception of human value. Although its benefits are told to us time and time again, we must all recognise that the individual is more than the faceless consumer which capitalism requires you to become. We must embrace the communitarian spirit in order for collective interests supersede the interests of the isolated individual blinkered by social media. As with all things, technology has its benefits and its drawbacks, but the latter must be brought much closer to the public eye so that we may agitate to enact change and protect the environment and the global population.

Sources:

[1] Globalisation Definiton

[2] Apple Fined Up To 500 Million

[3] Plannned Obsolescence

[4] E-Waste Disposal

[5] Cell Tower Tracking

[6] Cross Site Tracking

[7] Workers Jobs Being Replaced a Machine

Published by Local Matters: thelocalists.org

Localism and Technology
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