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Bot Thought

Who do you like? Who do you follow? This is important stuff. These days, doing social media is a full-time occupation. It requires Olympian level finger dexterity and a splintered attention refracting like a conflict diamond. And, Sharing.  The most powerful weapon in our social media arsenal. With it we can start a political movement for change. We can start a war. Every purchase, every “like” or “follow” carries a personal responsibility. Flicks releasing blood to wash the feet of our new gods. The  Influencers. The color of money is still, red.

Clicking while binge-watching the latest season of Netflix “Witcher”. Keeping up with the Kardashians and Tik Tok’s Kimberly Loaiza is a thumb-slide and double-tap. More Amazon “must-haves”.  Scroll, emoji, like, tap, tap, tap. Reddit threads side-streaming with YouTube. A side-order of Instacart.  Life is an electronic dreamscape. The mega world. Buy a piece of nothing. Flashes of virtual happiness. We are immune to the ripple effects of our actions in the real world.

It can be hard to connect personal actions with distant carnage. An issue closer to home may bring focus. A sharp pinprick of immediate, personal pain.  Taxes.

Tax time is a tap away. OMG. WTF. Turbo Tax revving up for another pandemic season. Filing is always a pain. Covid upped the angst. Three years of pandemic has smashed the systems. Sledgehammer style. Government Band-aids don’t stop the bleeding anymore. “Build Back Better”?  How about just- “Build Better ”, from scratch.  Back is no longer an option.

While we were busy living the Dolce Vita in the mega world, the IRS made a new move. Because shit isn’t messed up enough already.  In partnership with ID.me they are “upgrading”  their personal information access portal.  As in, identify, by all means possible and impossible, that You are You.

Be prepared to bare what’s left of your financial soul.  Rip your hair and abuse all forms of tech upgrades and “improvements”. Share the trashed remnants of your personal information.  This reality will hurt. Now and later.   All in the name of “Security” and,  keeping us safe. I’m not a techie and I love you guys when things work. BUT.  Common sense says to me, the more portals opening my Personal Data, the more access the hackers have. They used to say, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”.   This, however, is not about hackers. It’s about the dollars and cents. Go figure.

To date, there is a long list of government data breaches. 2021 ended with record-setting levels that included illegal access and dumping of social security numbers, bank accounts, and, oh yes, our tax records.

KISS Principle translation; tax-paying Americans were financially compromised. Read that as, virtually “screwed”. We The People have little or no recourse when financial shit hits our fans. Banks we rescued back in 1980, simply added more “customer service” bots in place of vanished human email and office contacts.  Good dollars and cents for shareholders.  (Pun intended).

To be clear, bots are not intelligent AI. They are pretty damn stupid overall. Companies like Drift, Nuance, and MindMeld want us to believe otherwise. Imitating a human voice does not equate to thinking. A chatbots primary job is to direct your real-world problems into recorded phone trees and looping links. Don’t confuse it with “customer service”  That baby went out with the bathwater.  Bots are designed to produce pure profit. They do this by creating the infinite hell whose only directive is to push us to the brink of madness and, defeat. It’s not about solutions. It’s about defeat.

Ours. Looping hours that push us into surrender. In our reality, it’s a few measly dollars. The pain is just not worth it. Or, is it?  Calculate the cost of your defeat into the bigger world. Decide if you “like” it.

Estimate the actual profit margins created by those “miscellaneous charges” of $1.26. Multiply by 3 million+ customers. Holy Shit Moment. Our pennies are the lifeblood of corporations. Add the Bots (no wages needed) and it all =’s pure profit.  Do you “follow”?

For big bank screw-ups, we are blessed with their “morning-after” pill. Comes minus any moral debate. 6 months of account “monitoring” won’t stop our financial haemorrhaging. Customer service bots can’t stop Experian and TransUnion from trashing our credit scores. Rats have been crunching and munching our data innards for months. Monitor? Get real.  Monitoring won’t stop the miscarriage. Our financial babies have been ripped from our virtual wombs.

Which brings us back to – our taxes. Theoretically, the government is finally stepping up to the security plate. Bat in hand, swinging at virtual bad guys on our behalf. Blake Hall, ex-Army Ranger, is the Founder and CEO of ID.me (formerly TroopSwap/ Troop Id).  His game plan is to simplify and secure identity authentication online. Sounds great.  Except, (again not a techie! ) that gives yet another third-party access, on top of current third-party portal management to a “secure” government site. Makes perfect sense right? No.

Let’s KISS this with a few silly facts. An initial social media scratch already exposes a host of negative user complaints and a 1.15 star rating. No influencer status here. Granted someone leading a battalion in Iraq may have super soldier skills which may keep our country safe. Not quite sure how that actually translates into managing financial data security. Military cluster-fucks and collateral damage are not concepts I feel align well with personal finance. I could be wrong.

But. All will be well.  We’ve proven we are who the government says we are. We finally hit the Turbo Tax submit button. Sigh of flipping relief. A confirmation number achieved. Duty done. Netflix and Tik-Tok await us. Our fingers itching to “like” something again. Get back to our normal, virtual life. We may have lost our privacy and a few dollars in the process but, we’re good citizens. It’s all ok now.

It’s shop, follow and share time. We deserve a little joy to alleviate the pain. Amazon has free same-day delivery! Tap, tap, tap… Virtual bliss.

The ripples of our virtual actions may stretch across the real world, causing wars and famine, but it’s okay. The bots and hackers have it under control. We’re safe now. Right?
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What’s The Color Of Money (Hollywood Beyond) ⤵︎

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Karin vonKrenner
Karin vonKrennerhttps://kvkrenner.com/
Karin vonKrenner is a journalist and photographer. She has worked globally for over 20 years, in times of peace and conflict. Karin directs her pen and lens to document the contrasting narratives of the human experience. Her work invites you to engage the world from new perspectives.

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