Big Brother is watching. Is that good? Or, bad? No, I’m not talking about the TV series Big Brother. And, no, not the Big Brother leader of Oceania in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. I mean Big Brother in both the invasive and the protective way.
Big Brother #1:
- Unwarranted, invasive, and discreet surveillance, especially of a people by its government quotations
- Any omnipresent figurehead representing oppressive control quotations
Big Brother #2:
If we can’t be clear on moral questions like these, then we’ve got big problems. I believe the most sacred thing that each of us is given is our judgment, our morality, our own innate desire to separate right from wrong. Choosing to set that responsibility aside at a moment of trial is a sin.
The former sounds much like Google and Facebook, but without government surveillance. The latter came from Apple CEO Tim Cook. Apple has become our new Big Brother, a pervasive entity who watches over customers in a paternalistic way, employing a built in morality that is extended to a billion people on planet earth.
No, Apple does not watch its customers the way Google or Facebook stalk their customers. Apple watches over us by building in safeguards to our privacy, by inhibiting others from endless tracking, and cleaning out the riffraff from the walled garden ecosystem.
The morality that Apple has extended to its extended family of customers is general in nature, but specific enough to 1) be applauded because it is time that someone stood up for decency and common sense, and, 2) be concerned because, well, one man’s hamburger is another man’s steak. Mores and morality have a generalized and cultural basis for existence and implementation over a large populace– free speech, democracy, women’s rights– are a few that come to mind, but I do not recall a corporation taking such a stance.
Cook’s doctrines and missives on cleaning up the parts of the internet under Apple’s purview do not seem to have similar considerations from Google or Facebook.
Apple. Big Brother.
Wait a minute. Do you remember Apple’s “1984” television commercial that launched the Mac back in 1984? That hammer was intended for Big Brother; likely starring IBM back in 1984. In the years since, Big Brother has taken on other forms. Microsoft. Google. Facebook.
But Apple? Big Brother? Arbiter of what is appropriate and what is not? For everyone?
Chris Matyszczyk in 2010:
It’s easy to fall for such a notion. The refusal to include Flash on the iPad, the constant controls around apps, which seem to let Playboy slide by, while cartoonists and even some politicians are excluded on the basis of quite difficult ideas of what is appropriate and what isn’t.
That came from 2010. More than eight years ago; back when Google complained that Apple was Big Brother. I know. Irony, right?
With just the slightest of delayed reactions, though, laughter seems to wiggle its way to the forefront. Google calling Apple “Big Brother” might seem, to some, a little like (with all due respect to both gentlemen) Hugo Chavez calling George Bush the “devil”.
Of course, it’s Google– not Apple– and Facebook that gather and store more information about their users, and most of it without user knowledge, than the rest of the world combined; including totalitarian governments. It’s Google and Facebook who peer over the shoulders and under the sheets of their users, quietly gather more data that is then used against those very users to manipulate their thinking and actions.
What is Apple?
Apple presents itself as the witty, handsome chap who tells his lover that she will have far more fun with him than with anyone else. Yes, he can be a little boorish. Yes, he’s a bit of a rake at times. And, yes, he does have his moods and is very clear about his likes and dislikes, however irrational they might be. But as a long-term catch, he’s better to be seen with, better to live with and gets great tables at the best restaurants. He’s equally liked by men and women.
For now, that’s a big brother I can live with.