Sunday, November 11, 2007

Department of Newfangled Fears

O, Brave New World that has spawned things like facebook and DNA decoding.
Somebody was telling me she has a friend who is afraid of facebook because anyone can post a picture of you vomiting in the taxi cab and then prospective employers will see that picture and not hire you. The woman in question checks identities for a living. Corporations pay her to find out everything she possibly can about potential hires. Hey, is that legal?
Me, I'm afraid of facebook because it is such an intrusion, not so much by my friends or prospective employers, but by corporations. I'm also afraid of facebook because I don't want to be slapped, hi-fived, kissed, hugged, or bitten. Please leave me alone with those damn things! I am afraid of facebook because the interface is fucking chaotic and drives me crazy.
Listen, I write this blog. My opinions may not be amenable to lots of people. My blog address is in my business cards, and I certainly hope that prospective employers will be kind and smart enough not to use the blog against me. In fact, I'm looking for those who will use it for them, for those are the people it would be cool to work for. I can see I have readers in all corners of the world. It is thrilling and it is also a little scary. Who are they? I realize my posts live forever in the internets. I have people from Albania still complaining about me making fun of Fushe Kruje. This is a new world where we have chosen to open up our identities to millions. And yet, I hope it is all rather banal.

DNA decoding. If you didn't see it coming, I don't know what planet you live in. Now that you can buy sperm or ovules, guess what happens? The buyers tend to pick from people they think are going to be either super smart or super good looking or super athletic. I know someone who had a dilemma whether to pick ivy league egg donors for their brains or California donors for their already genetic Hollywoody looks. People want to know if you have the gene for alcoholism, or homosexuality or, in the case of a despicable white woman from Germany, she wanted to buy somebody with black genes because she loved tanning and she didn't want her baby to have skin cancer. Another idiot wanted a man who had no genes for hair loss in his family, and good eyes so her child wouldn't look like a nerd. Certainly, oversimplified DNA discourse can lead to Nazi sounding shit.
But what if you find an ivy league genius and you don't know that he may have the gene for schizophrenia? Used to be, when you had a kid or you adopted a baby, you could not control the genetic baggage. This randomness is part of life, and as much as genetic science can help us fight disease, we should be very careful on trying to control and change this randomness. The Nazis hated random and look what happened.

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