There Is No Tech Backlash

Rob Walker, writing in the New York Times:

It’s fun, and increasingly fashionable, to complain about technology. Our own devices distract us, others’ devices spy on us, social media companies poison public discourse, new wired objects violate our privacy, and all of this contributes to a general sense of runaway change careening beyond our control. No wonder there’s a tech backlash.

But, really, is there? There certainly has been talk of a backlash, for a couple of years now. Politicians have discussed regulating big tech companies more tightly. Fines have been issued, breakups called for. A tech press once dedicated almost exclusively to gadget lust and organizing conferences that trot out tech lords for the rest of us to worship has taken on a more critical tone; a drumbeat of exposés reveal ethically and legally dubious corporate behavior. Novels and movies paint a skeptical or even dystopian picture of where tech is taking us. We all know people who have theatrically quit this or that social media service, or announced digital sabbaticals. And, of course, everybody kvetches, all the time.

I stopped using Facebook years ago, but it had little to do with their data collection or privacy and more to do with just not caring about the things people were posting there (like many others, I still use other services Facebook owns like Instagram and WhatsApp). That seems to be the case for many others I know who stopped using Facebook, or Twitter, or whatever. Most people do not care about the privacy or data collection issues so long as they get enjoyment out of a service.