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Out of sight. Out of mind.
The oldest trick in the book.
This is a draft that I had in my Substack from 2021. I’ve just now come across to writing the article on Sovereignty, located here. This article describers the flight experience with more flair to it. So please, enjoy!
Not too long ago, I was on a American Airlines flight. I can’t remember to or where I was going, however I do remember that the plane didn’t have a TV screen in the seat in front of you (and the airlines played it off as “hey, you can use YOUR phone - but our free WiFi - to watch moves on the go!”). I’d rather use my phone for much more productive uses than watch TV and movies, so I just forgot about it and read my book. However, I couldn’t help my gaze from consistently going to the gentlemen phone who was sitting in front of me, to the right.
First off, he must have had an iPhone13 or so because his screen was wide - like super wide. He held up his phone to eye level and proceeded to watch his Netflix movie. Now here I am, trying to read my book, but every time I looked up, there was a cool action scene that, soon enough, I was watching the movie on his cell phone. It happened to be movie called “Lost Bullet.” (That shows you how much of the movie I watched. I watched enough to pick up on the protagonist name, figure out what was going on, the identify what movie it was. Mind you the movie was entirely in subtitles.)
So as the movie is getting better, the gentlemen all of a sudden gets this feeling that someone’s watching him… or his phone. He looks behind him and I move my gaze to my book. Having someone watching over his shoulder clearly rubbed him the wrong way and he proceeded to move his phone down to his lap so he could watch the rest of the movie. Sadly, I don’t know how that movie ended.
But what I found interesting was the gentleman’s attitude to having being spied on. While he had his phone up, his text messages would come through (in huge font, might I add) and I would advert my eyes from his phone as much as possible not to read into the details of his messages. I just wanted to see how the mechanic saves the day. After the messages, he would go back to his movie, until he felt he was being watched. Once he realized that, he “protected his property” aka his phone, his messages, his movie.
What I found interesting about the whole scenario is that we can apply that to the entire population. No one fundamentally likes being spied on. No one likes strangers having access to their data. No one likes a peeping tom.
So why do we let agencies like NSA, social media applications and many more spy on every piece of detail in our lives?
Then it hit me.
We don’t see or feel those agencies, apps, and so forth spy on us. And since we don’t see or feel them, it’s almost as if they don’t exist.
“Out of sight. Out of Mind.”
The Reality of the Mind
Our reality is made up of how our mind processes things. So if it’s within our mind somewhere, then there’s a reality to that item. Our mind processes things based on the information given to it from our senses as our senses is how we perceive information about the world. This simple trick is how magicians wonder and wow us.
Magicians hold your attention in one area, while the slight of hand occurs in the other area. This can also be known as a smokescreen (one of the 48 Laws of Power). Essentially, with this technique, your attention is directed here while the real trickery occurs over there.
Similar to the act of directing your attention is the same act as simply removing the item. If you don’t see if, then you may forget that it exists.
And that’s what occurred on the airplane that day. I, innocently enough, was only doing what every other agency and application does to millions of Americans - including this gentlemen - by simply gazing over the information that he was viewing. Did he grant consent? Sure…We can imply that “hey, if you’re holding your phone up to be seen, you must surely want people to see it, right?”
Comprehension and Principles
That’s similar to the “Terms and Conditions” that we peruse over every time we sign up for a new gadget or social media site. Sure, we want to be able to use the features of the app, but do we really understand that our data will be stored, collected, possibly hived? And by signing, are we showing true consent? According to a 2004 Lancet article titled Does informed consent to research require comprehension? we read that the “…validity of an individual’s consent depends on him or her actually comprehending the information disclosed.”How are these corporations and agencies ensuring that there’s comprehension by those that sign up?
Nor should they. They’re goal is to sign up as many members as possible so they can access as much data as possible. If we “clicked YES” without fully knowing what came with those terms and conclusions, then it’s on us - not them.
So the onus is on us, the individual to ensure that we have a solid working comprehension of whatever we are “consenting” too. If we don’t like it when complete strangers glare over our backs to: read our messages, watch our movies, and more, then why do we allow strangers to: read our messages, watch our movies, and more?
The only way that we can abolish this is to focus on the principle at hand and that comes back down to comprehension. Before signing up for the latest app, do you really understand what the company is going to do with your data? Are you 100% sure that you want someone with access to the intimate details within your life? If you wouldn’t share some of the most intimate details with your closest friends and families (or a stranger on a plane like myself), then why do we sit here and openly sign up to have complete strangers sift through amounts of our data?
It all comes down to principles and if you don’t mind how TikTOK collects every piece of data on you, then sure, this article means nothing. But if you don’t mind TikTOK eaves dropping over you, then surely you can put your phone back up so you (and I) can finish this move and see if the mechanic saves the day.
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