The Me Generation birthed the iPeriod, which begat the Age of the Selfie. The epoch of the individual is now narrated by tweets and posts and snapshots of ‘epic’ moments.
From the Me Generation to the Age of the Selfie (and everything i in between), the self indulgence and endless self promotion has been the dark side of choice. “Free to Be You and Me”, which celebrated individual differences and diversity that is actually necessary for a healthy life and society, has been lost (or never gotten) by too many who distort individuality to having ‘the right’ to do ‘whatever I want whenever I want’ within (or without) the law.
Meanwhile, the laws have changed so that a corporation is a person under The Constitution, and Big Money defines politics more than the general electorate could. An individual’s vote is far less significant than a corporation’s donation to a SuperPAC.
Big Brother may be corporate or government, as our individual smart phones and tablets and devices, as well as our plastic currency, are hardly private. We live in a strange time of hyper-individualism with little privacy.
The conflicts between personal privacy and public safety are real and serious. Capturing dangerous behavior on a smartphone might be a life saver. Most agree that police with body cameras would be better than police with tanks.
Of course, this era of compromised privacy for greater security was ushered in with 911. National security against international terrorism was a collective cause, until collecting individual data with undue cause began to make us individually insecure. Policing the authorities has become as important an issue as policing everyone else.
Interestingly, the iPeriod began with iTunes and the iPod, which appeared in 2001,within months of the worst terrorist attack on American soil in American history. (Facebook appeared in 2004;You Tube appeared in 2005; Twitter appeared in 2006;and the iPhone appeared in 2007.) Seems like eons ago.
As all these technologies have become ubiquitous and refined, and more social media platforms and apps continue to be rolled out and shared at seemingly warped speed, the sense of I seems at once dominant and on the verge of extinction. Individualism and compromised privacy must coexist now.
The pervasiveness of these technologies in our lives over the last several years has allowed us to adjust and recalibrate our own possibilities and limits. Social norms have changed in a virtual world, and we are getting better acclimated to this reality. Individual behavior is perhaps captured more frequently and shared, and we are adapting. We are reconsidering our limits for public and private concerns and safety, and can gradually implement necessary measures to ensure that everyone is accountable. Where there was overreach, we can now modify. We must constantly be amending.
Even amendments. While we embark on the bumpy ride of the 2016 election, we need to reclaim our individual votes and our democracy from being bought out as a result of the ironically (or is it cynically?) named Citizens United. When our individual-ness as independent citizens is so thoroughly compromised, we need to usher in a new era to end Citizens United.
In this epoch of the individual, we have been trying to find our balance, as we have seemed very off kilter so much of the time. As we adapt to the connectivity and instantaneousness that new technologies have created, and rein in some of the messiness and excesses, we can easily access electronic means of democracy and virtually (and really) end the era of Citizens United. The iPeriod must favor individual people’s votes over Big Money. The Era of an End to Citizens United will be ushered in by individual people like you. Period.