Sadly, as Vladimir Putin has made very clear, I'm not welcome because I'll likely spread "homosexual propaganda." And he's totally right: I'd definitely seek out the Russian gay community during a visit, asking as many questions as possible. "How do you find each other in the city?" "Do your neighbors harass you?" "The police?" "What are your lives like, living with a government that's as openly oppressive to gays as the South once was to blacks?" I've seen a few Russian profiles on Recon (which surprised me), and I'd want to know if gay Muscovites had access to social media. I'd also want to know if they thought Edward Snowden was sexy.
But I also read many political sites, and despite being gay, I lean towards conservative. I read Fox, Limbaugh, CNN, and the BBC; I visit the Drudge Report at least ten times a day - and sometimes even more, when the app sounds a siren. I google "North Korea" daily, and I search YouTube for videos on life in Pyongyang. I also go on the occasional Mideast kick, whenever Iran makes the news or a new Joel Rosenberg book comes out. Between the sex and political sites, I'm sure my online behavior had raised occasional red flags - especially when I read Pravda.
Now, imagine what happens when all those chips get zapped by an electromagnetic pulse - say, the type that North Korea is said to be working on right now. Not only do we lose the TV, but the furnace stops, the car won't start, and the Keurig won't even squirt out a mocha while we scratch our heads over our lifeless iPhones. Imagine what happens when the grid goes...down. No lights, no heat, no phone, no Internet. It's won't be like it was when I grew up, heating soup/coffee in the family room fireplace during Springfield Illinois' 1979 ice storm. Back then, our "grid" was down for 10 days; with the exception of shag carpeting/popcorn ceilings, we were reduced to pioneer living. If that situation happened today, I literally don't know how I'd survive without my gadgets. I'm far too dependent on them. As an introvert, they make it easier to interact with others.
I've written/blogged about the days before the Internet - and how hard it was to meet other people, especially in the late 80s/early 90s (back when AOL was little more than a small ad in OMNI magazine). It was a lonely time for me. A dark time, even...and a time that thanks to my iPad, I will never see again.
Surveillance technologies seem as scary today as telephones once seemed a hundred years ago.
But in the end, it came down to "quality of life"...and in my opinion, that's what our gadgets are really all about.