The conflicts and tensions between the net generation and the offline legislators are just escalating. The legislators are sitting on all the force, but the net generation is sitting on all the future. With the recent revelations of wholesale spying and surveillance by the United States’ NSA, these tensions have been brought to light again.
People and legislators who were born into the offline world were so through none of their choice. Nobody holds, or should hold, them responsible for being an offline-born. However, people should – and do – hold them responsible when they’re not even making an effort at understanding the net generation and dismissing their demands of privacy and dignity. Listening to lobbyists of big corporations does not count, even if those lobbyists call themselves “stakeholders”. They, too, are offline-born, and will just tell the legislators that the net needs to be curtailed more because it disrupts their business by allowing the competition to do the same thing at one-tenth the cost.
It isn’t just the United States and the NSA spying on their citizens in this manner. The European countries’ security forces do it too, and we know it all too well, even though it probably won’t mentioned too much in election campaigns.
The demands from the net generation of basic privacy, basic respect – even basic dignity – is just getting louder in the face of these egregious privacy violations. Unfortunately, it is usually met with undeserving disrespect from the offline-borns, legislators and lobbyists alike.
All too frequently, we hear people who were born in the offline world scoff at demands of privacy from the net generation, and hear the offline-born elders say things along the lines “They give all their privacy away on Facebook anyway. How could they possibly value any kind of privacy? It cannot be a big deal that we go in and take the rest of it by law.”
This statement, no matter its exact wording, is as prevalent as it is shockingly ignorant and arrogant. It ignores one of the most basic distinctions we make: doing something voluntarily, or being forced to do it against your will. It does not make a difference between voluntary action and forced action. Imagine those offline-borns giving the following statements, which all have the same lack of that important distinction:
“This old lady is giving some of her money away for free to charities she picks. Obviously, she doesn’t care to keep her money, so it can’t possibly be a big deal that we take the rest of her money without giving her a say about it.”
“These people are having sex with a lot of people. Obviously, they don’t mind having sex with other people, and that gives me the right to have sex with them, by force if necessary.”
If these two statements come across as shockingly arrogant to you as an offline-born, then you need to learn and understand that the first statement, which treats privacy as up for grabs, is perceived exactly as shockingly arrogant to the net generation.
These two statements are semantically equivalent to the first one, highlighting the atrociousness that results when people arrogantly dismiss the difference between voluntary action and forced action. The rights violated in the last two statements are as important – legally, philosophically, and emotionally – as the right to privacy. Yet, offline-born legislators seem utterly incapable of understanding the difference between free will on one hand and force at gunpoint on the other when it comes to giving up details about one’s privacy.
To be super-clear: Just because somebody chooses to be open about some parts of their life voluntarily in ways that the offline-borns wouldn’t, that gives them absolutely no right whatsoever to take the rest of the net generation’s privacy by force.
The offline-born legislators and bureaucrats have been violating the rights of the net generation wholesale, using the most arrogant of justifications. This must come to an end, and it must come to an end yesterday.
The net generation goes to vote in less than a year. They’re now half of the European population, and they’re having exactly none of the disrespect displayed toward them.