Two of our features this week deal with issues of paranoia, and how easy it is to write it off as “crackpot” behaviour. Think about doomsday preppers and you’re likely picturing a guy who lives in a buried caravan with his 900 guns, 4,000 bottles of whiskey, and pet pig. Mention being worried about electronic surveillance and you’re likely to be offered a tinfoil hat.
Chelle Fitzgerald’s interview with two doomsday preppers may well convince you that, actually, they are the smart ones. If you lost electricity, water, and supermarket access, chances are you couldn’t feed a guinea pig for long, let alone yourself. Many New Zealanders know this all too well - the Christchurch earthquakes left people without these necessities for extended periods of time. Chelle’s interviewees point out how vulnerable we are, and how easy it is to pretend we are not.
Still, stockpiling supplies seems dodgy if you don’t know what’s going on. For example, finding out your strange hallmate is hoarding thousands of non-lubricated condoms is terrifying until you learn that condoms are flexible, durable, waterproof marvels. A humble condom can start a fire, carry water, be used as a slingshot, and even double as a makeshift, sterile rubber glove.
While you’re busy laughing at your prepper friend, you yourself are probably doing a bit of stockpiling. You’re loading your life, day by day, onto the internet. Your loved ones, photos, bank and credit card details, interests, desires, consumer habits, fears—they’re all there to be mined by anyone with the wherewithal to do it. Your dark searches—the ones not even your next of kin know about—are there too. The device you have in your pocket could be listening to you right now. Check out Kirio Birks’s feature Electric Eyes to learn about the extent we’ve given up our privacy for the sake of convenience.
One of the worst things you can do at work is to send the wrong email to the wrong person. Imagine the mortification of having somebody read every email you’ve ever sent. Think about what you’ve said in your private messages on facebook. The nasty things you’ve said about people, the flirty chats, the everyday embarrassing garbage we say when we think we are having a private conversation.
We are being watched more for commercial reasons than political. If you want to make a new slingshot or carry a bit of water, and you search for novelty condoms, then they pop up, seemingly forever, in your facebook news feed. Though it doesn’t seem as scary as the government tracking you to make sure you’re not breaking the law.
For a bit of light relief, check out our exquisite photo essay by Trevor Cokely from that morning the fog descended on Dunedin so thick you couldn’t see, looking like it was going to choke you if you went outside, making you feel like you are the only person alive on the earth…
Or look at Ghost Boobs by Mat Clarkson. That’s a fun one.