Everywhere I turn, it’s cookies this, cookies that. Even if I do say so myself, I bake a pretty mean cookie at home – but that’s not the kind that websites are interested in. Every time I go online, I get the same message, over and over: accept all, accept all! It doesn’t seem to matter that I’ve told them a hundred times that it’s a no, and a firm no at that. Back they come, as if it’s the first time we’ve met, with that pesky pop-up. Whether I’m looking up train times, shopping online or visiting a government website, everyone wants me to say yes to their cookies. I don’t particularly know why they need them, or where all the information they take off our computers ends up. Experts say that data is the new oil; a boundless source of profit. The only avenue of resistance is to patiently click on the ‘reject’ button, time and time again. It’s a nuisance, absolutely, but I keep on doing it; I refuse to admit defeat. If cookies were presented to me as a contract I could negotiate, I’d happily sign. If I could say: “Look, most of this seems perfectly reasonable, but that bit in article three, section b is just not on. Amend the terms, and you’ve got yourself a deal.” But when the cookies policy appears in front of me, that’s not an option. It’s just: shut up and sign. What really baffles me is when stores hit me again and again with their irksome cookie requests. Why are you holding me up; do you not realize I’m here to spend my money?
Another problem – and this one’s even more serious – is social media. It’s a machine that we just keep on turning, like hamsters running on a wheel, by posting our thoughts, memories, photos and a whole load of other precious tidbits. In days gone by, we’d never have dreamed of giving all this up to people who we don’t know – and whose intentions we certainly cannot be sure of. People are up in arms right now, because Elon Musk has decided to leave a dent in our wallets in exchange for the blue tick that says we are who we say we are. Yet we have no problem having a big bite taken out of our privacy. A ‘like’ here, a bit of exposure there: that’s a fair price to pay for our complete and utter submission. The owners of big-tech companies are nothing other than feudal lords, large digital landowners who have us all eating out of their hands because, among other things, the comfort, speed, immediacy and accessibility that their tools offer has turned us into fawning acolytes to their creations. Just in case we one day find ourselves on the end of another revolutionary levy, on top of all the data we have to hand over, I think I’ll note down the recipe for my scrumptious cookies.
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