When times get tough, don’t be like a lemming

If you aren’t familiar with lemmings, they are small squirrel-type animals that have a legendary quirk. When threatened, they follow their leaders in one big crowd right off a cliff to escape danger.

Escaping one danger by jumping right into another seems like a really good idea, huh? That’s the logic of lemmings, and we are living in an era of lemming logic. Compound social media with COVID-19, and is seems like fear and panic are driving us off the cliff — turning us all into lemmings. Even our leaders, who are supposed to stay and fight this virus for us, are turning into lemmings too.

Everyone is scared

Media is a 24×7 litany of talking heads dissecting COVID-19 from every angle:

  • Daily death and infection rates
  • Not enough PPE (masks, gowns and gloves) to protect our frontline healthcare workers,
  • Predictions of doom and gloom

We sure as hell were not prepared in any way for a global pandemic. Nobody seems to know what is going on or what to do next?

People are scared and our leaders are clearly scared too, or at least overwhelmed with uncertainty. Governments are in a panic spending endless amounts of money on new ventilators made out of car parts and vacuum cleaners while the population goes crazy in social isolation. So crazy that running off a cliff and taking our chances is starting to seem like a good idea.

Enter Big Tech

Into this maelstrom steps Apple and Google, the two biggest smartphone operating system developers with a solution called contact tracing. South Korea, one of the earliest countries hit with the virus, is lauded as an example of how to contain a pandemic. This is not because they implemented strict quarantine measures on a generally obedient population early while they sanitized the entire country.

Nope, Google and Apple point to South Korea’s use of contact tracing technology that tracked every citizen’s smartphone and their location. Citizens were sent text messages indicating that they had come in contact with a person suspected of having COVID-19 and they were instructed to go home and self-quarantine

Technology is the holy grail that will save us all. At least that’s what our leaders tell us.  Everyone will get this new virus tracking app and we will monitor your movements 24×7 in an effort to keep you safe from the virus. If we believe them then we might as well start running for the nearest cliff.

Technology does not save lives at a time of pandemic. Sanitizing and isolating from others does. Don’t get me wrong, the speed of innovation and the manufacturing resources that are being re-tooled to help combat this virus is an incredible testament to our cooperative spirit. However, I wonder how much we would be talking about contact tracing technology as the Holy Grail if the only company that had it was Huawei?

Privacy should not be up for sale

Cooperation should not require us to surrender our civil liberties and our privacy.  If we agree, like good little Lemmings, to allow our governments to take any measure to combat the virus — including tracking all our phones 24×7 — we will never get our right to privacy back.

Google, Apple and our governments should never be given the right to watch and track us every day, especially in our own homes. This is why we have rights to privacy and due process which are written into Constitutions that our leaders swear to uphold. This is not a time to be giving up our civil liberties. This is a time to be holding our leaders accountable for the terrible job they did protecting us all from the pandemic.

Nothing is going to stop the coronavirus but a vaccine and that is going to take time. Until that happens, we should be able to stay secure in our own homes and be socially distant from everyone without our government’s prying eyes “legally” spying on us “to keep us safe”.

The only excuse for taking away people’s civil liberties is a bullshit one. Don’t believe them. Next they’ll be telling you that running off a cliff will cure you of COVID-19.