“There ain’t no such thing as a Free Lunch”. The first time I heard of this phrase, I felt very hurt and sad. Why were people being so pessimistic? However, the more I think about it, the more practical it becomes.
There is no documentary evidence confirming when this saying actually originated. According to Wikipedia, its first appearance in practice was around the 1930-1940s. American bars offered “Free lunch” to their customers who purchased a drink. This resulted in the customers spending a lot of money on their drinks because the food offered was very salty.
Obviously, the word “Free” is the best strategy for attention and deception. At the beginning of internet era, every website offered free services. The excitement of social media has overwhelmed us. We agreed to their terms and conditions for a free for life account without reading them, especially with electronic services like Hotmail, Yahoo, Facebook and Google. Even though, you tried to read it but finally you would give it in as their privacy policies were very complex and difficult to understand.
Social media was a new channel for communication, and connection with others, and so, an escape from our boring reality at no cost. With advances in technology, internet has become our new fundamental as it revolutionises our ways of living. It ruptures our lives into polarised directions: it allows our minds to explore and connect in cyber space. On the other hand, it isolates and widens the gap in our physical reality such as between rich and poor, educated and non- educated. Strangely, we are connected around the world but lonely.
The Youtube website is a big challenge for the traditional media and politics around the world. Google earth is mapping revolutions for scientists, biologists and epidemiologists.
We can do almost anything at our own convenience: watching news, TV and movies; reading newspapers, listening to radio, stalking celebrities and shopping online. The Global village is no longer just a fantasy idea in textbook but reality.
As much as it pleases us, like the ‘Free lunch’, we still have to pay. We purchase these freedoms of expression and creativities with our privacy and confidentiality. All our personal information and emails has become the property of service to sell. Every time we visit any websites, they will give us little cookies to track our activities and send our information back to them. Behind their ‘free’ services, they are generating a huge profit for themselves each year. The latest update from Yahoo Finance, saw Facebook earning $1.46billion in the first quarter of 2013. Google also reported their finances gaining $13.97 billion this first quarter.
We have totally no control over this. Well, we have already signed our rights away when we agreed to use their online services. Precisely, there are no secrets in this virtual space as accessing information depends on your IT skills in hacking, manipulating and tracking down whatever information you are after. Our global village is producing its own cultures and cyber activities: porno-ing, bullying, stalking, trolling and much more than we can imagine.
Of course, we can not change the past, but as Web 3.0 is about to be released, and still no improvement on users’ protection but the sophisticated search engine for marketing purposes.
The questions here are, “Are we happy to let Social media take control of our way of lives and take away our privacy?”, and
“if we want to do something to change this situation, what should we do?”.
I cannot deny I have seen the beauty of this chaotic space. Many wonderful creations were born from our global village.
There are so much to discuss but before we go on.
Have we paid enough for this “Free Lunch”?
Please enlighten my world with your thoughts, wisdom and feeling.
“There is no present or future, only the past happening over and over again now, Eugene O’neil.”
Criminal minds season 8, ‘Pay it forward’ episode/script.