Censorship by powerful entities appears to be all the rage these days, and it can take many forms. Sometimes the various governments instituted among men engage in it explicitly, as the Chinese Communist Party does with its treatment of Christianity and cinema (like changing the end of “Fight Club” so the police foil Project Mayhem). And sometimes, they do it far more aggressively behind closed doors, like the U.S. government has been doing for years in collaboration with private companies.
Other times major corporations and powerful groups will censor content by refusing to do business with people and outright denying them access to the public square. Target tried to prevent people from buying Abigail Shrier’s book “Irreversible Damage” by refusing to sell it, and Amazon, the world’s largest book retailer, blocked paid advertisements for it.
Simultaneously, the controversial internet personality, journalist, and overall vicar of American polemicism Alex Jones has been de-platformed by every mainstream tech company for “violating” speech standards arbitrarily enforced by Big Tech companies who are in cahoots with intelligence agencies.
Our lives have been entirely saturated by entities wishing to regulate our thoughts and lifestyles. They use complex algorithms on the devices they sell to us to harvest our data and control what information we see, hear, and access and then turn around to sell us more crap with the intention of further regulating and monitoring our behavior. The more dependent we grow on tech companies, and we grow more dependent with each passing day, the more power they have over us.
But there is one crucial way you can fight back. Buy and use physical media.
Something like a physical family Bible, instead of a digital version that your family can pass around on a tablet, can’t be further altered and has the added benefit of being imbued with generational sentimentality. Similarly, a physical photo album, albeit bulkier, isn’t stored in the cloud and can’t have its content scoured over by high-tech sensors as easily as an iPhone’s camera reel can.
When it comes to entertainment, a pre-existing DVD version of “Fight Club” wouldn’t include a fabricated ending created by the Chinese government, “The Simspons” season three box set wouldn’t have memory-holed Michael Jackon’s guest appearance, and pre-21st-century printings of Mark Twain’s books will maintain the integrity of the author’s satire while digital versions censor it to account for modern sensibilities.
Does this err on the side of Ludditism? Of course, it does, and in some ways, it’s probably futile. For instance, virtually nobody has a DVD player anymore since the advent of high-definition streaming.
But a dash of tech skepticism and a reminder that you’re always being watched by the things you use to look at memes and check your email never hurts. And embracing the more antiquated tendencies of what people did even 10 years ago can also ground us in a less anti-human routine in which we get to preserve more of what makes our experiences worthwhile.