Tuesday 21 May 2019

Beware of the enemy within

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Between the Pope coming, and the cold war in full swing, and feminism back, it's feeling like a Seventies revival around here. It won't be long before The Riordans is back on TV and we're all eating Catch bars.

Between the Pope coming, and the cold war in full swing, and feminism back, it's feeling like a Seventies revival around here. It won't be long before The Riordans is back on TV and we're all eating Catch bars.

Of course, it's more complicated this time. The Pope is not the force he once was in Irish life. In the Seventies, you wouldn't get uppity women questioning his infallibility. In the Seventies, the women were safely married and retired from public life by the time they started getting uppity notions.

These days, with many having turned away from the Church, we've had to find other ways to fill the hole: giant glasses of wine in the evening, or Pilates, or running around in very tight leggings, or cycling up mountains at the weekend for tea and scones. It's all change from when the only Marathon most of us ever tried was called a Snickers by those crazy Yanks.

But for most people now, the new gods are science and technology. Unlike the Church, technology offers a better life in the here-and-now. And if you're lucky enough to work for them, you might even get free food and football. We all worshipped these new gods: Steve Jobs, before he died and ascended into the cloud. And of course Zuckerberg, who, like his predecessor, started his mission young, and now, aged 33, is being very publicly crucified.

But it's confusing. In the Seventies, you knew who the bad guys were. In 2018, we thought the Russians were the ones who were hacking our data and interfering with our elections. But now it's turning out it might have been Zuck and his disciples all along. And we are friendlier with those guys than we ever were with the Russians.

But we're a bit torn. If we didn't need all the tech guys so much, the Government would no doubt start expelling some tech people from their embassies down in docklands. For the optics. But it's more complicated than that, isn't it?

They might be data-sharing cowboys, but they're our data-sharing cowboys. And what about where the Ruskies and the tech industry come together? Now that Leo's declared a new Cold War with Russia, what will we do about the awkward fact that the digital HQ of Russia's international news/propaganda outfit Russia Today, is in Dublin. RT digital is based down in our own Digital Hub. (Not that the Russians would be using the internet or social media to spread fake news or propaganda) Who knows? They might even be benefiting from all the incentives we offer tech companies to come to Ireland.

All we can say for sure is there are interesting times ahead. So grab yourself a Nunch bar, or a Star Bar as you crazy kids no doubt call it, and keep watching. Just be aware they'll be watching you too.

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss