AbolishTheDEA.com January 10, 2020

Tune In, Turn On, Opt Out

by Ballard Quass

Why fans of psychedelic medicine should just say no to Surveillance Capitalism

Socrates says the good is virtue, Eric Schmidt says the good is profit

Any psychonaut who is aware of the anti-democratic practices of Big Data companies (and of what those practices portend for a free society) has to ask themselves the following question:

Isn't it time for Americans to "Tune in, turn on, and opt out" (opt out of participating in the digital world that is, to the extent that such a thing is still even possible these days)?

Psychonauts who do not immediately answer "yes" to this query are hereby invited to read "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism" by Shoshana Zuboff, a 2019 classic already considered by many to be "The Silent Spring" of the Digital Age. The book clearly reveals, in the words of the Silicon Valley uber-nerds themselves, the disdain for democratic processes that is implicit in and necessary for the triumph of Big Data companies, financial behemoths for whom human beings are commodities, mere sources of data to be analyzed for predictive purposes by businesses of every kind.

I got so spooked by reading the book last night that I turned off my location finder on my phone, having learned from Shoshana's research that potentially hundreds of companies have access to the data that I may be unwittingly sharing through the handful of apps that I use on my Android device.

Things got even spookier the next morning, however, when my weight-monitoring app refused to record my latest weigh-in, stating in a pop-up message that Google insists on knowing my location if I wish this particular health-related app to be fully functional.

Fortunately I had read Shoshana's book, so I knew immediately what Google was up to: they were out to find my destination by hook or crook, whether I wanted to supply it or no. "Fine," I thought to myself, "I'll just do without a graphic rendering of my daily weight, or else create one of my own, with good old-fashioned pencil and paper!"

I then settled down to some computer-based freelance work, forgetting all about Big Data's creepy inroads into my private life - or at least attempting to. But when I checked out my e-mail in-box, I discovered a message from Google Maps with the subject line: "Ballard, here's your 2019 Timeline update." Curious, but with a sense of foreboding (based on the morning's events), I opened the e-mail and clicked "Explore Timeline," only to discover an extensive annotated map clearly indicating everywhere I had been in the world for the last year. Without my knowledge or approval, Google had helped itself to my Android location data for 2019 and now was informing me of that fact by spitting out the data in a format that it supposed might seem useful to me. I felt kind of like a Mafia don had just thrown down the map in front of me and smiled a knowing smile, as if to say: "See? I know where you are whenever I need you."

Had the government sent me such a map, I would have been horrified. Why am I supposed to be pleased when the same information comes to me from a multi-billion-dollar company like Google?

The e-mail in question said that I was receiving this map because I had turned on "location history." But I had never knowingly done such a thing, and even if I had, it was probably because Google was holding an app's functionality hostage until I did so. In any case, I never was informed that Google would be monitoring my every move based on that one uninformed click that I may or may not have made, perhaps as a prerequisite for playing chess on my smart phone or browsing through a digital version of the periodic table of elements.

The inhuman metaphysics of Surveillance Capitalism

But there's another reason that fans of the psychedelic revolution should "Tune in, Turn on, and Opt Out," and that is the inhuman metaphysics upon which Surveillance Capitalism is based. Big Data posits a human being as a means to an end, and a strictly materialistic means at that, one from which all relevant data must be extracted to benefit the needs of business. The psychedelic vision, on the other hand, posits the human being as a precious and ineffable part of nature, with a mysterious inner life that needs to be examined and understood over the course of a lifetime. Why? Because the psychonaut believes with Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living. The pushback against Surveillance Capitalism should therefore be led by fans of psychedelic therapy, since they are the ones who know how much is to be lost when we consider human beings to be robots, mere cogs in an economic wheel, of value only insofar as they impart reliable data points to Big Data and its customers.

But what would it mean to "Tune in, turn on, and opt out"?

This obviously doesn't mean abandoning the Internet entirely, since the Net, just like LSD, is neither good nor bad, except in the way that it is used or abused. This new "Leary challenge" does mean, however, that we should "call" Big Data on its penchant for claiming our data through surreptitious means, such as withholding app functionality until we agree to their grasping terms, or burying their ambitious data grabs in lengthy unreadable disclosures. Meanwhile, those of us who don't consider ourselves to be robots should remind the Big Data companies of our point of view and put them on notice that our emotions and desires are off-limits to data mining, no matter how practical such an extraction may become in theory thanks to the increasing accuracy of digital mood detectors and the like.

Facebook's Zuckerberg and Google's Schmidt both insist that it's Manifest Destiny that our privacy rights are going to disappear, that the future will be one of ever-increasing efficiency, powered by a myriad of data-points supplied by obediently wired Netizens. It's inevitable they say, "so don't bother trying to stop us." But what about those of us who do not consider efficiency and profiteering to be the ultimate goals of life? Why should we play along in order to boost the profits of the most profitable companies in the world?

Fortunately, we champions of the human spirit can still opt out of this robotic dystopia that the Big Data companies are trying to foist upon us under the guise of its supposed inevitability. We can start by actually reading those disclosure and privacy notices and crying "foul" when they oblige us to part with privacy expectations that we have always taken for granted in analog life.

Meanwhile, we must realize that the Big Data end game is not simply to corner the market on our private information, but to use that data to change our behavior in accordance with the economic needs of its deep-pocketed clients. In this way, the goal of surveillance capitalism dovetails with the interests of the drug war: both are committed to keeping human beings as predictable as possible: one by rendering us more robotlike and programmable, the other by denying us the mind-expanding blessings of Mother Nature.

Next essay: Just Say No to Surveillance Capitalism
Previous essay: Urine Testers Needed
There was no drug problem in Ancient Egypt. There was no drug problem in Ancient Greece. There was no drug problem in Ancient Persia. There was no drug problem in Ancient Rome. There was no drug problem in the Mongol Kingdom. There was no drug problem in the Viking Era.

Why? Because until 1914, people were judged by how they behaved, not by what substances they had in their digestive system.

The Drug War is America's unique, anti-scientific way of looking at the world. It is a war that causes all of the problems that it purports to fix: above all, it brings "drugs" front and center in the minds of the irresponsible, encouraging them to explore and use substances that they might have never even heard of without the peurile and anti-scientific plant demonization of drug war zealots.

Now Showing

Comedy Sketches
Drug War Rap Music
Fun with Urine Testing
Stand-up Routines

Fun with Urine Testing

Welcome, Patriotic Pissers

More pics every week!

Get an exciting job ruining the lives of your fellow Americans. Listen to this fun audio clip to find out how!

Help America enforce Christian Science Sharia. Help nail the anti-patriotic scumbags who insist on using mother nature's plant medicines of which politicians disapprove. Great benefits. Must pass a squeaky clean drug test, proving that you have emphatically renounced all of mother nature's godsend plant medicines.

Can't pass a urine test? Order a vintage bottle of Granny's Weewee today, guaranteed squeaky clean. We use only the finest urine from teetotaling grandmothers, who gave up their right to mother nature's psychoactive plant medicines many decades ago. Why not splurge and buy the 1945 vintage? You don't want to pass up a job at Taco Bell because you were stingy! This early vintage has a great down-home bouquet and will remind the lab technicians of the good old days of Grandma and those great pies that she used to bake (or whatever).

End the War on Drugs

by Christian Science Heretics

Mine by Birth

by Thomas Jefferson and the Poppies

Waxing Wroth (about America's Drug War)

by God and His Minions

Urine testers needed to ruin American lives

Your Call is Impotent to Us

Movie Review of Running With the Devil 2019

Drug War Jeopardy

Drug War Virus Update

Manager's note: All of our comedians have undergone drug testing. None of them have been found to be using anything but the most mind-enhancing and therapeutic plants in Mother Nature's psychoactive pharmacy.

A Drug Warrior in our Midst

Comedian Adderall Zoloft Riffs on the Drug War

Drug War Copaganda

The DEA: Poisoning Americans since 1973

The Joy of Drug Testing

Dear Reddit readers: I do not respond to Reddit messages for at least three reasons:
  1. Some of them are mean-spirited nonsense.
  2. Some of them are non-mean-spirited but nonsense all the same.
  3. Some of them are simply wrong-headed but inspire me to write fully reasoned comebacks, for which I simply don't have time.
If you really want to reach me, however, my name and email address can be found in a reasonably intuitive location on this site, so feel free to contact me there. I'll assume that anyone who takes the time to do so will have something meaningful to say ;)

Bone up on slam-dunk arguments against the drug war, starting with the fact that it was a violation of natural law to outlaw plant medicine in the first place. Check out the site menu for fun ways to learn more about the manifold injustice of the status quo, including many knock-down arguments never made before. Why? Because even the majority of drug-war opponents have been bamboozled by one or more of the absurd assumptions upon which that war is premised. See through the haze. Read on. Listen on. And Learn how tryants and worrywarts have despoiled American freedom, thereby killing millions around the world, totally unnecessarily, ever since the fateful day in 1914 when ignorant America first criminalized a mere plant -- and insisted that the rest of the world follow suit or else -- an act of colonialist folly unrivaled since the day of the genocidal Conquistadors.

Abolish The Dea

Abolish the DEA image featuring machine-gun-bearing DEA officers enforcing drug law sharia, cracking down on Americans for using Mother Nature's freely offered bounty