TUMBY BAY - My next door neighbour and his wife are in their eighties. He’s a tough old cereal farmer and she’s a retired hospital matron. They are trying to live out their twilight years as happily as possible.
Not a week goes by, however, that they don’t come over to ask me about a concerning telephone call they’ve had or a strange email they’ve received.
These invariably turn out to be scams of one sort or another. This afternoon it was a telephone call telling them that their home phone was about to be cut off.
As you can imagine these things cause them a great deal of anxiety. They both have health problems and they rely on their telephone in case there is an emergency.
After I had reassured them it was just a scam, it occurred to me just how much technology has enlivened and facilitated the lowest of low life in the world.
Social media, in particular, has highlighted just how many crooks and carpetbaggers there are out there.
Sometimes social media warns us about this stuff and at other times it acts as part of it. It’s very confusing because you don’t know who to trust.
Have these low lifes always been there and it’s just technology that has exposed them or are they actually products of that technology?
It’s an interesting question because if they have always been there it’s a poor reflection on humanity. If they are a new phenomenon what does it say about the moralities of technology and social media?
They are using, for instance, the names of people who have lost everything in the fires to set up fake charities, the proceeds of which they then steal. That is even lower than the looters who have been caught going through deserted buildings stealing people’s possessions.
They are not the only technological lowlife around though. The corporate world has its fair share of unsavoury creeps too. The recent banking royal commission has made this patently clear.
Automatically taking fees out of people’s bank accounts for services knowingly not provided is just one example. Goodness knows what else they and their technological equivalents in other industries have been doing over the years.
It is a world-wide phenomenon. Those who control the technologies and the social media platforms are using them to perpetuate despicable schemes. In the process they are reaping obscene profits.
And that is the end game of course. Follow any shonky deal to its logical end and you’ll find the culprits rolling around in their pits of money.
Our politicians are good at it too. Our delightful government in Australia has been using social media to claim party political kudos for rendering aid to fire and drought stricken families and businesses.
We don’t know who the sick puppy was who thought that one up but everyone has their suspicions.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump is using social media to publish lies and deceits to the world with apparent impunity.
That the leader of the most powerful nation in the world plays out his fairy tales on Twitter has to be reason for great concern. But apparently not. Social media and bullshit, it seems, are made for each other.
That, of course, begs the question, what is the difference between the low life that is the president of the United States and the low life harassing my next door neighbours?
Very little I would suggest.
The sad fact is that what could be incredibly beneficial technological advances for humankind is being subverted by greed.
I was going to say it’s the usual few bad apples that are spoiling it for everyone else but that’s not true, is it?
Its lots of bad apples spoiling it for everyone else, including for my elderly and vulnerable neighbours.
And to make it worse, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to spot the outwardly healthy apples that are really rotten inside.