Last night my daughter called out as her bed was wet. “Dad, I was cleaning pony’s hair with water from my water bottle and somehow the bed got wet.” She said it so earnestly combined with sense of wonder.
She had been so sucked into her own little world engaging with her pony that she hadn’t noticed where the water was going. In fact, when I commented that wetness in the bed came from cleaning pony’s hair, she was annoyed with me. Actually more like indignant.
Often our approach with digital solutions and technology can be similar. We fixate on it, like my my daughter washing her pony’s hair, unaware of the negative impact our actions are having. So we see no problem with governments and tech companies implementing surveillance technology during the pandemic unaware of the longer term surveillance implications of this. We focus on creating apps for smartphones to provide information and training to health workers. However, we forget that over 50% of the world’s health workers don’t have smartphones so can’t download an app. And that by focusing on an app, we are ignoring the world’s most vulnerable. And as the Ade Lovelace Institute says, “Attempts to gather data that make use of apps or smartphones require higher levels of digital and health literacy.”
Changing bed sheets was not in my plans for the night, but it was needed. I smiled and shook my head a bit while cleaning up the mess, however my daughter is four and exploring her world. Dealing with the aftermath of the COVID-19 virus will be very different. But it often appears like we are behaving like 4 year olds, not adults.
It’s time to level up. It’s time to raise our heads and remember our lives, our societies include more than just this pandemic. Our choices must reflect that. Now is not the time to be blissfully unaware and claim ignorance.
Photo by Annie Spratt