Updated: Mar 3
The least we can say is that this year 2021 has started with a bang.
One of the stupid jokes that is running on the networks says: "I have finished the 7-day trial period of the year 2021 and I am not satisfied: I would rather not buy".
The world has just witnessed a massive live attack on one of the symbols of democracy, an event that by its magnitude should horrify us at least as much as other terrorist attacks; and yet two days later, the world's reactions are, at best, offended to the point that one can already feel the nations in the midst of the pandemic resume their routine, not as if nothing happened, but almost.
One wonders about the reasons for such insensitivity towards what should give rise to an in-depth questioning of the state of our world. One of the answers may be that we are now living at the same frantic pace as our social networks that make and break news, sometimes in a single day. It may also be because, faced with the globally-traumatic events experienced since the September 11th attacks, we are emotionally disinvesting ourselves so that we can continue to move on with our lives, like the partner of an abusive spouse who ends up shielding himself or herself from daily suffering.
This insensitivity is found at all levels. Just a few years ago, I remember a heated debate about surveillance cameras in the streets and, as a good democrat, a fervent supporter of the State of Law, I questioned that one could imagine putting any citizen under visual surveillance, even for the sake of public safety. The reality is that this is no longer an issue.
The pandemic has forced us to concede a large part of our liberties for the common good, and this is understandable since we are living in a state of health emergency. Our freedom of movement is - hopefully temporarily - severely affected and tracing and charting has become a necessary evil to counteract an even more spectacular evil.
But let's be clear: We must get out of this crisis state as quickly as possible and, if faced with this virus, there is no other solution for the time being, it is our responsibility as democracy-loving citizens to use this pause to reflect on our future.
My fear, however, is that the pseudo-defense of our freedoms is being taken hostage by the conspiracy movements that flourish and spread their venom through social networks. Indeed, recent events have put us face -to-face with reality; virtual outbursts do find an echo in real life. While this truth is not new, as terrorist movements have been using these means for nearly several decades, the attack on Capitol Hill showed us that from now on, we can all become our own enemies.
Thinking constructively requires from us not to give in to the urge to be only binary; not everything is either very good or very bad. Nuancing certainly requires intellectual effort and goodwill when faced with contradiction, but doesn't our future deserve at least that?
The time for debate on video surveillance cameras is long past. Today, WhatsApp, under the impetus of Apple, is pushing us to formally accept that our personal data be transferred to one or more affiliated social networks. Tomorrow, the aftermath of the pandemic will undoubtedly impose further restrictions.
The past will never come back. The society's transition is profound and rather than clinging to what has been, shouldn't we be looking ahead and starting to discuss the outlines of what our freedom will be like in the all-digital world of tomorrow?
Picture by Karolina Grabowska