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Digital links leave nowhere to hide

While we yearn for privacy in certain parts of our lives, we leave digital footprints that can be traced back to us. FILE PHOTO | NMG
While we yearn for privacy in certain parts of our lives, we leave digital footprints that can be traced back to us. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

We live our lives increasingly reliant on technology, its hooks drilling deeper and deeper daily. Our social interactions, knowledge acquisition and commerce all critical to our baseline existence are now powered by bits and bytes, much of whose control we leave to an unknown and constantly changing entity we fondly refer to as the Internet.

While we yearn for privacy in certain parts of our lives, we leave digital footprints that can be traced back to us, exacerbated by our fear of missing out and desire for convenience.

I took a cursory glance at the apps and services that I use on a daily basis and the permissions that I have so freely granted and I am officially resigned to the fact that my digital DNA is irreversibly intertwined with yours and a host of a million others.

From my favourite email client, messenger, banking applications, calendar, backup service, on demand this; on demand that, caller lookup, camera and the full gamut of pre-installed bloatware; with little to no effort, you can reconstruct my entire self from communications, friendships, affiliations, likes, dislikes, temperament, past loves et al.

Despite being most careful in the things that I do, and in the channels I choose, there is no running away from the fact that I, and by extension you, are part of a global collective.

This means that it would take a simple trigger from a second or even third degree connection to light up the dark corners that we all as humans invariably have in our lives.

That we are connected in multiple ways and in real-time, leaves us vulnerable as there is no moat that we can build around ourselves, no privacy to speak or even think of. Nothing is sacred, nothing is hidden.

But when you think about it, perhaps this is a good thing as we may start to live a little more purposefully. A deliberate life that has us questioning our every action in the knowledge that all can be put out in plain sight especially so on matters, decision and choices that are detrimental to a common good.

It may also help seed discussions on taboo topics that have hopped across generations on the back of rumours and hearsay; affirmed by social ostracisation.

Sounds ominous, but let it stew for a minute and you will find yourself nodding in agreement and introspection.

Njihia is CEO of Symbiotic | @mbuguanjihia

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