I’m currently reading The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. It’s an amazing work, intricate and descriptive. She weaves back and forth between the position of backstory narrator and “present day”, relaying the motivations, dreams and desires of the central character in a world that is so restricted, so scripted. She’s a time traveler of sorts, setting the stage for how things got so horribly messed up in the world, leading to the total evisceration of women’s rights. She straddles the line because she remembers what life was like before everything got so messed up.
And it’s a scary work. Despite the fact that it was written in the 80ties, I feel like it is just as relevant in today’s world, like the removal of basic freedoms without so much of a whimper of protest from people could happen now, in the name of national security for instance. We give up so much without thinking.
We give up our privacy so freely. We fancy that because we have settings on our Internet profiles that restrict what other people can see that we are somehow afforded protection, and simultaneously, a voice, that what we think matters and it shouldn’t be repressed. Everyone is a critic. But the very fact that we can select a button to determine how much of our personal information to share shows how arbitrary the whole thing is. How flimsy and transitory. We have no privacy. We have no protections on the web. Everything we do, every site we visit, every word we write is there forever. And few people seem to care. “I’ve got nothing to hide” seems the most common response. And that’s what I find most troubling of all.