Like every human with reliable WiFi access, I have a volatile relationship with the internet. It can be a reliable companion one day and a complete pest the next, but like most things in life, it all comes down to perspective. You take what you want from it, and if they are good things, great. They probably should be, because if Beyoncé taught us anything, what choice do we have other than to make lemonade from our lives and win a Grammy for it. And what I am taking from the internet this morning, is a lesson. Because I am an overthinker, and as we’re making lemonade today, I will, for the course of this newsletter, continue to see that as a good thing.
The issue of personal data rights being human rights is an issue I am not able to tackle in 600 words, but in her collection of essays Feel Free, Zadie Smith writes, “When a human being becomes a set of data on a website… he or she is reduced. Everything shrinks. Individual character. Friendships. Language. Sensibility. In a way it’s a transcendent experience: we lose our bodies, our messy feelings, our desires, our fears.” It genuinely doesn’t matter who we are, she writes, as long as we make choices. Choices around the photos we like, the people we follow, the articles deemed worthy of our comments, and crucially, the purchases we make. But while personal data reduces us to our choices, and we’re yet to come to a conclusive ethical agreement around what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in this arena, personal data tells us something very important. It tells us our choices matter. They are, in fact, more than just something that matters. They are a valuable resource.
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