Inquisitive Slaps
Password protected, by Khyati Trehan

This image was so riveting to me that I saved it the moment I saw it and kept going back to it. The idea of a population to be represented by one figure and the identity represented only by the username and password feels very dystopian but is unfortunately very true. Having watched “the social dilemma” on Netflix recently was a very life changing experience, not because of the topics discussed because I was already aware of them, but by the way it was articulated. One of the dialogues goes like, “Advertisers are the customers, we are ‘the thing’ getting sold. We are the product, if you are not paying for the product, you are the product. It is the gradual slight imperceptible change in your own behavior and perception that is the product.” This is an extension to the point I made for the Reem Koolhaas barcode flag, the productization of everything is problematic. “We live in a world where a tree is worth more financially dead than alive, in a world where a whale is worth more dead than alive. For so long as our economy works in that way, and corporations go unregulated, they are going to continue to destroy trees, to kill whales, to mine the earth and to continue to pull oil out of the ground, even though we know it is destroying the planet! And we know it is going to leave a worse world for future generations. This is short-term thinking based on the religion of profit-at-all-costs, as if somehow magically, each corporation acting in its selfish interest is going to produce the best result. This has been affecting the environment for a long time. What’s frightening and what’s hopefully the last straw that will make us wake up as a civilization to how flawed this theory has been in the first place is to see now that we’re the tree, we’re the whale. Our attention can be mined. We are more profitable to an organization if we are spending time staring at a screen, staring at an ad, than if we’re spending out time, living our life in a rich way. We’re seeing results of that, we are seeing corporations using powerful artificial intelligence to outsmart us and figure out how to pull our attention toward the things they want us to look at, rather than the things that are most consistent with our goals and our values and our lives.” We are not “users” with walking barcodes or usernames, we are people. The Earth is not a resource, it is our home.