March 14, 2018

Ad Tech And Social Pathology

The history of civilization is littered with horrifying social and cultural practices that, at the time, seemed perfectly normal.

Today, we are mortified by the idea of slavery. We cringe at the way women have been treated. We are appalled by the past treatment of religious and ethnic minorities. Past child labor practices seem incomprehensible.

And yet, in the context of those times, these abhorrent customs and practices were not just acceptable, they were established cultural norms.

Sometimes, it is only in retrospect that we understand the harm of social traditions and policies.

Today we may be in the middle of such an unacknowledged and unrecognized pathology. The three-headed monster of ad tech, tracking, and surveillance marketing seem perfectly normal to us. Most people don't give them a second thought as they live so much of their lives online.

But these currently acceptable practices have the potential to lead us into very dangerous waters.

We know the dangers of totalitarian governments. But we have no idea where totalitarian marketing leads. And make no mistake about it -- we are quickly headed toward totalitarian marketing. Very soon marketers and media owners will know everything there is to know about us.

It is not at all farfetched to imagine a time fifty years from now in which people will look back and say, "how could we have allowed marketers to know what we believed, who we talked to, what we said, where we were at all times, and what we did?"

We do not yet know where such unprecedented access to our most personal and private information by organizations unknown to us leads. But I promise you one thing - it ain't good.

History has taught us that the hardest time to recognize social pathology is when you're standing right in the middle of it.

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