Jill Thomas, MD of Future Life Wealth Management Ltd, says the ‘lockdown click’ means we have moved from shopping on our local High Street to the internet – but at what personal and economic cost?
So, what was the unintended consequence of the COVID-19 medical emergency across the world in 2020?
Virtually overnight we moved from shopping on our local High Street to the internet, with us glibly accepting the GDPR terms and conditions on these websites – without understanding and comprehending the implications and how significant these clicks are/were and what this commits us to. The substantial increase in the ‘lockdown click’ activity has meant that we are releasing copious amounts of data to third parties at historically unparalleled rates.
This new High Street during ‘lockdown’ has operated alongside the enlarged, and targeted social media during this period, but at what personal and economic cost?
In my area of expertise, financial services and the investment markets, this has been the catalyst to irrational behaviour, changes in attitude, ideas, emotions and sentiments. This compounding in the emotional contagion has been transmitted, flashing across the world at the speed of light, and the assumption that it must be true because it is on social media.
Simply put, this overload of information does not mean that we convert this into sensible dialogue – what this has done is perpetuate misleading stories where we trust what is written down.
But it is the expansion of the click framework at the onset of this medical emergency which causes me the greatest concern, because our increased internet interaction rapidly expanded us into becoming virtual information agents. Barriers to entry and the ability to obtain our data are very low, we just clicked ‘accept’ when going on a website for the first time, without a second thought as to who, what, where or how our information is going to be used.
On a daily basis we have been handing over data at extraordinary rates not seen before the COVID-19 outbreak – giving our personal data to unknown third parties who are subsequently going to use this information to sell on or use for their own purposes. Our expanded use has created us as new ‘actors’ in the information technology war, which has shaped a new vocabulary, and manipulated the future viability of business and the High Street as we knew it.
Just before the medical emergency outbreak we had seen, for first time data brokers, new business concerns which are forming industrial relationships to sell on our information to third parties, without constraints. Put simply, data is the new gold mine, providing information to third parties that could never normally be obtained, our personal preferences, views, points of view etc.
What we are starting to see is the outbreak of information warfare – structural movements accelerated by change because of the pandemic. Data does not lead to more intelligent decision-making, it is actually leading to greater irrational behaviour and extremes and we have become the catalysts to this.
The outcome – we have seen a crisis of capitalism which is reforming in Silicon Valley in California in the United States. This small area of the world, which is even more rapidly emerging as the most powerful, seeing levels of disruption never witnessed before and eclipsing our High Streets and economic futures.