The virtual sphere should make life easier, but it is shifting from being an aid to a means of control. Whilst tech provides greater access to information, it is a double-edged sword that is becoming increasingly invasive. The process is happening on multiple fronts - from social media and location-tracking apps to the ultimate climax of the latest gaming craze, Pokémon Go.
Social media should enable users, but its shiny exterior has duped us. We've become pawns in a game that doesn't centre the individual, but reduces us to a marketable commodity. It constantly nags us to share, check-in and consume content in its effort to become more addictive. It no longer feels like a facilitator, but more of a trap.
The relentless extraction of seemingly banal information pushes us until we publicise everything shy of our inside trouser leg measurement - and as we post, the info can then be sold. The collusion of big tech together with big business is increasingly evident as our online footprint is tracked and used against us in the form of targeted adverts. 'Smart' tech pushes the boundary between private and public, provoking a need to retreat from the invasive gaze of techy voyeurism - even Zuckerberg shields from eves-dropping cyborgs.
The smartphone's grip on our attention is the beating heart to this tech intrusion. Wi-Fi connection in exchange for contact info, geolocation apps and online shopping means that our shopping preferences, location and personal information can be funnelled to the clutches of big businesses.
The addiction to connect means that we've become mindless chips in a game where we aren't setting the rules. The reflex to check-in at cafés and airports has been cultivated and begs the question, have we been conditioned to think our friends want to see the info that advertisers are paying to get hold of?
The straw that broke this tech-phobic camels' back is Pokémon Go. With more users than Twitter and armed with the smartphone's overlapping features, real life has become the vehicle to service this craze, irrespective of the cost. People are roaming around like zombies, which led two men to fall 50 to 90 feet down a cliff in California and a couple to be held at gunpoint in Sydney. Gamers look like possessed vessels that embody the game and morph into human avatars.
Pokémon Go shows the frightening ease for technology to hijack reality. The game eliminates the boundary between real and virtual, where people put themselves in harms way for the benefit of their online exploits. Smartphones have a monopoly over our time and this game sets a precedent of integrating maps with entertainment, so users can no longer compartmentalise their phone usage.
The onus is on us because tech giants won't stop until users push back, impose a limit and reclaim autonomy. The Pokémon slogan, 'Gotta catch 'em all' is a fitting one for its grip on gamers, and it's one that we should change.
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