This is the thirteenth year of the blog. In that time, I’ve had four primary cell phone numbers, six different Twitter handles, been all over the place with other social media services from Path to Mastodon to Peach to Tumblr, and had three different work email addresses. All piped through ten different smartphones and who knows how many computers.
It irritates my wife and friends to no end that my number has changed as frequently as it has. But in a way, it’s almost for the best, as is my erratic Twitter presence. It’s made it difficult to have a consistent online history, especially as I’ve spent years staying away from Google and Facebook services (yes, I have Instagram and WhatsApp, but neither ever connected to the other and neither ever connected to Facebook proper). On my personal iPhone SE, with its US Mobile SIM on prepaid, there is not one byte of Google code and no Facebook app other than Insta. And it runs through a VPN at all times which makes it appear I’m online from somewhere in London.
The Internet changed the rules about what is possible. As a result, a digital world has different imperatives and different issues around everything from copyright to speech to harassment to advertising to what is reasonable to expect from asynchronous communication. And because we live in a world where norms and unwritten rules mean nothing, we haven’t established any around this new world. In the past, if you ordered something from a catalog, you’d get their catalog every month from now on. Now you get email from them every day. No one in the old days would have dreamed of requiring you to conduct business on your home phone; now it’s nothing for a company to say they don’t have phones and expect you to use your own mobile phone for work. And there’s no planet on which South Central Bell could have said “we want to monitor your conversation so we can advertise to you” but now that’s more or less exactly what Verizon and Comcast and AT&T are arguing that they should be able to do “just like Google” without seeming to grasp that they’re the phone line, not the correspondent on the other end.
Add this to the long list of things that need repairing…someday. Assuming the world is still here and generational inertia hasn’t set in with everyone under 30 who has no idea or expectation of online privacy. Meanwhile I’ll be over here plotting to get a 669 area code for the personal line somehow.