These days, that whole “red pill/blue pill” scenario doesn’t seem quite like science fiction anymore.
I’m a 30-something year old writer, and I’m glad of it. If I could somehow project my current brain back into my body of say 21, naturally I would. But overall, I feel fortunate to have been born in what I consider the sweet-spot of modern technology. As a child of the late-‘80s, I grew up with one foot in both the pre and post technology cultures (so I feel I might appreciate it a little more than your average youngster). At one time, our gaming consisted of nothing more than bits, sprites and polygons. Then with the advent of the internet, our lives were literally transformed in a few short years (and our gaming universe with it). Thus ushering in the age of Xbox Live, the PSN and a wave of digital evolution we’re still riding to this day.
But with the advancements of our technology came an unintended consequence.
I opened with the Matrix comparison for a very specific reason. At no point in our society have we been more “jacked-in” to the grid. 2015 is just around the corner, and in addition to hoverboards, we are likely only to become more enmeshed in the technological web that is cyber-space. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those “I hate modern technology” types. In fact, I freakin’ LOVE technology. Everything awesome in entertainment and pop culture revolves around gadgets and gizmos in my humble opinion. The only problem with that is, by surrendering our physical worlds to the realm of digital, we’ve opened a Pandora’s Box of sorts. In the past, those who would seek to do harm had to physically seek you out in your home or place of business. They’d lie in wait in the shadows, and at the opportune moment, strike when you least expect it. Now, assaults instead come in the form of hacking and cyber-terror. And I’m not talking about the campy stereotype of the 1980s movie hacker. Usually their depicted as rebellious young upstarts, pecking away at DOS terminals in their efforts to fight some evil corporation or corrupt government. Unfortunately, the modern iteration is much more troll-like (and far less noble).
Typically, a hacker in today’s world is either an individual (or more likely a collective of people) who’s only goal is anarchy and misery. Take the most recent attack on Call of Duty and Destiny over the weekend. A promised DDoS attack (a common method used to bring down servers by overloading the pipeline) followed a tweet by a group called Lizard Squad just days before. It read “We're predicting a lot of mad gamers this weekend.” Teams have been working feverishly to plug the security holes ever since, but one wonders how long it’ll take until another faceless group pokes a new one. Even a huge corporate conglomerate like Sony isn’t immune, despite being one of the biggest names in the industry. Over the years, the confidence of its customer base has been shaken on multiple occasions, due to the compromising of personal data during similar attacks. Of course basic things like usernames and passwords were usually the target, a handful of social security and credit card records were accessed in some cases (causing many to fear identity theft and/or fraud).
Take a moment to re-read that last sentence so it can really sink in.
Identity theft and fraud are now legitimate concerns to worry about, unlike in the past when gamers biggest fear was running out of save space on their memory cards. Danger looms over us like a dark cloud 24/7, all because we wanna’ get in some Madden on the weekend. As is illustrated by the following profanity, I find this to be fucking insane. I also find myself asking…is it really worth it? Have we fallen so far down the rabbit hole there’s no going back? When individuals feel the need to utterly wreck people’s lives simply because they CAN... well I’m not sure I fully understand this mentally. Jihadists strap bombs to themselves because they believe 72 virgins await them in paradise. The ‘90s cult founded upon the Hale-Bopp comet drank poison in their attempts to hitch a ride on an alien mother ship as it passed by.
While all this reasoning is bat-shit crazy by any measure…at least it provides some tangible motive. Our “Lizard” friends seem fueled by nothing more than sheer boredom. If that’s the case, I can’t help but equate them to disturbed children (ones whom get a kick out of pulling the wings off flies or burning anthills with a magnifying glass). Pointless endeavors at best (and cruelty for cruelties sake at worst). Even though Alfred was right when he said, “…some people just want to watch the world burn,” I question how far this strain of thinking truly goes. Must these anonymous douche bags really reduce our lives to ashes before satisfaction is achieved?
Sadly, the answer is probably yes.