Crime is perennial, that’s surely one of its delights. Murder, kidnap, adultery – all those awful occurrences in real life have been explored through different forms of entertainment for millennia. But crime has been evolving. Of course the old crimes are still there – they’re great, they’re perennials – but how we live seems to be changing the nature of possible crimes.
Technology’s rate of change is at the heart of it. Rudeness, rigged elections, anxiety in the young – it seems to be to blame for quite a lot else, so why not this too? But never has a single person’s effect been so out of kilter with the effort put in, and that has consequences. A tweet can wipe millions off a company’s share price, a snapchat drives someone to suicide. Swathes of people can be destroyed at the push of a button. Yet it’s subtler than that, too. Anxiety in the young, for example: if it is caused by over-use of smart phones (by which a lot of profit is made)…isn’t being responsible for that sort of damage a crime?
Technology is perennial now, so much so that we’re largely unaware of how it’s changing us: our interactions, our societies, our very neurology. Like the water goldfish swim through, we’re sort of aware of what’s going on, but too dependent on it to worry too much about it. And who’s actually in control of technology? We’ve been content to leave its development to market forces, where the flow of money controls things rather than any one person making decisions or taking responsibility per se. Decisions are generally made because they’re in a company’s best interests rather than a society’s…but it’s still individuals who are affected.
Take climate change, for example, another result of the increasing power of our technology and its ubiquity. We all know (well, mostly) that we’re impacting the planet. By driving. By over-farming. By storing photos in the Cloud. It all uses energy, it all depletes the earth. But the consequences of our behaviours are largely invisible – on distant lands or on peoples unseen. No one’s actually wielding a hammer or necessarily meaning to commit a crime, and yet…we’re causing an effect.
Traditionally, while the victim is clear the perpetrator and motive might be less so. Now even the victims are obscure. But they’re there. And there are still people who can be credibly held responsible for these new crimes, and people who’ll investigate them and/or fight back. It makes for a morally complex landscape. And with some murder, kidnap and adultery in there too – welcome to the crimes of The Feed.
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