Prisoners enchained

Towards the end of the last century, I was offered a (free) “Blackberry.” This was by an executive of the Tottawa ZitĀ (or, as they called themselves, the Ottawa Citizen), and whether I took it or not was up to me. The advantage, if I took it, was that I could be contacted by the company at any time, for instance three in the morning, and as a journalist could be made aware of “breaking news” — presumably, as it was broken up. After careful thought, to which I devoted fully five nanoseconds, I resolved to decline.

Others were accepting, for they found the little devices “cool,” and the possession of one would identify its owner as a member of the privileged class, qualified to work “24/7.”

This, of course, was the world of almost thirty years ago. In this time, I have fought off the gifts of several smart- and cell-phones, and still refuse to own (or be owned by) one. It is not just reactionary, Luddite views that inhibit my enthusiasm for the latest technology.

I would also decline the offer of a slave — a sentient slave, capable of innumerable chores and functions — who would follow me around day and night, walking beside me on the sidewalk, doing my bidding, carrying my groceries, and when not in use, could be folded to slide into a pocket. She might beep whenever her battery ran low, but otherwise promise not to disturb me. For even the chance of a sudden beep, would impinge upon my consciousness.

It is odd. A large majority of my neighbours now belong to shiny gadgets. Since this is Parkdale, where housing is provided for the criminally deranged, one might expect them to have electronic devices affixed to their ankles, or be compelled to clank iron balls and chains. Instead, they have accepted the hand-held monitors, voluntarily.