Some brief, incoherent thoughts on privilege

As I was sitting in a tram on my way home today, I was catchinng up on my news feeds, as usual, and I dug into an article on CNET called Untangling your digital life (while embracing it). At first it appeared to me like it was going to be just another essay lamenting how we, as a society, are becoming increasingly captivated by our devices, more and more ignoring the world around us; probably even offering some ideas on what to do about it. And in a way, it turned out to be just that.

As I have just now realized, I do enjoy reading this kind of essays. Maybe I look at them as cautionary tales, to make sure I don't become as addicted to tech as these people seem to be. Even more likely, it's because I am (at least to a certain degree) aware that I waste way too much attention on my phones and computers, and somewhere, in the back of my mind, I am probably hoping to find some answers in articles written by people who are apparently just as clueless as I am in this regard.

That's not the thing that spurred me to write this post, though.

Nope, the thing I wanted to write about is the massive privilege overload present in a single paragraph of this article.

Everything seemed all right to me for the first six paragraphs – an introductory anecdotal story from the point of view of a person who's having a hard time getting in control of their smartphone. However, as I was reading the seventh paragraph, I had to take a break. The seventh paragraph was just far too much for me to digest. Especially the following sentence, which I just have to quote verbatim:

Pretty soon, we'll all have smartwatches strapped to our wrists, text messages beamed to our retinas via smartglasses, and sensors in our clothes telling us we've been in the sun too long. Electronics makers are busy building cars, refrigerators, thermostats and other smart appliances that will talk back to us.

Maybe it's just because I can't afford any such gadgets at the moment (Oh poor me!), but it seems to me that only a very limited part of the world population can afford to even think about items like these.

The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that people in a very good economic position (mainly successful people in the tech and entertainment industries) like to complain about how much these luxury gadgets eat up their precious time. Looking at the essay from this new perspective (at least, to me), the entire thing suddenly starts to look like a humble-brag of a bunch of wealthy people from various privileged classes, saying “Look at how our expensive toys make our life so much more difficult to manage. And it's going to get even worse, because soon, there will be a bunch of new, more sophisticated, and more expensive items for us to kill our time with!” And from sentences like the one quoted above, it looks like these people can't even imagine that there might actually be a huge number of other people who'll probably find problems like these just plain ridiculous.

Anyway, since I didn't have any specific direction in which I wanted to take this, I guess I'll simply leave it at this – this entire thing is just a Friday night brain dump anyway, so it's not even supposed to make sense.


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