In the years to come, contact tracing will be our only savior.

“You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.” People, mostly those in a position of power, have regurgitated variations of this sentiment for years. It seemed to pick up steam after 9/11 and again after the prevalence of smart phones. Back doors (hehe), industry consolidation, a national legislature with an average age older than time itself…all of these things coalesced to form a perfect storm. Our fourth amendment is deteriorating right before our eyes, and most of us only shrug.

“I haven’t done anything illegal,” we’ll say, forgetting that we have all have shit we’d rather not be public knowledge. Maybe it’s a dick pick, medical records, an inflammatory opinion made while intoxicated.

For years, that I suffer from depression isn’t something I felt comfortable being out in the open. I remember as a kid being misdiagnosed with a hairline fracture in my leg and that being reason enough to deny me insurance because that, my friends, is a pre-existing condition.

(Can you believe that Republicans have the audacity to say we wouldn’t return to that hellscape if we repeal the ACA? But I digress.)

We also forget that the law is more malleable than ever in the age of the internet because the old farts in charge don’t understand basic fundamentals about the digital revolution. Did you know that you can be charged as a sex offender for sharing a naked selfie (of yourself!) if you’re underage? Elected individuals have a responsibility to know the bare bones about matters they oversee. If they took that responsibility seriously, I wouldn’t have a problem.

But the fault doesn’t lie squarely with lawmakers. Many technology companies and spy organizations like the NSA enjoy obfuscating as much as they can about how their applications and systems function. The less lawmakers know, the more power these organizations can wield with impunity. Tech CEOs like Zuckerberg have seized on lawmaker ignorance and public apathy to siphon as much of our private lives as they can.

And maybe…maybe if we actually cared, we might be deserving of protections similar to our counterparts in the European Union under the GRDP. But a new fight stands to doom any argument that our private information is not our own. We have radically fucked the environment that hosts us. As we develop every last piece of earth on this exhausted planet, we will encounter innumerable pandemics, some worse than COVID 19. And we have to be at peace with the fact that we’ll need contact tracing as one of our tools in the toolkit. We could be proactive. We could shut down wet markets in China and the equivalent of wet markets, factory farms, in the United States.

But we won’t. Humans are shortsighted. We do not have the drive for proactive measures on a global scale. I worked at a radiation factory. We irradiate meat from animals so sick it would be unhealthy to consume the meat without killing everything.

Instead of sustainable farming practices, we choose inaction and then scramble to react when the apparent becomes inevitable.