Privacy Inequality, Part One

There are dozens of movies that represent a future or a scenario where there’s a big gap between rich and poor.
You’ve got movies like Elysium, where only the rich are able to go to outer space, and the people who can’t afford it have to stay in the Earth—where there is scarcity and control from the rich group.
Elysium movie 2013
You can even take for example The Hunger Games, where people who don’t have money stay in districts, and the rich pick randomly participants for their massacre game.
You’ve got In Time, where time is the equivalent of money, and poor people die on a daily basis when they time hits zero.
You’ve got many, many movies about this fictional scenario. And it’s been said that Hollywood is the responsible for making us believe that robots will eventually come to kill us. But what if there’s a future real scenario where rich and poor have the biggest inequality gap of all times? That’s Privacy Inequality, the most brutal form of inequality you’ve ever imagined.


Let’s be honest, Hollywood makes more money picturing a scenario where everything falls apart. That’s built into storytelling. The idea is to have high stakes in a story, because that way the audience gets emotionally involved.
That’s why a lot of movies are about the end of the world. World War Z: A virus infects the population and there’s no cure—it kills everybody.

That’s a given, and also why some movies get so exciting. But I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about the reason movie directors or producers start a movie in the first place.
It’s not about money. Because if they want to make a lot of money, all they have to do is to create an average movie (usually a comedy one), pick a top star, and make a big PR strategy and make tons of money. There are other kind of directors, though, that use movies as a way to express their concerns about a topic, or just to increase awareness around it.
I see directors and producers (and screenwriters) as people who want to picture something greater than the movie itself. Documentaries are a great way to do this, but when you involve an idea with a great story, that’s a powerful way to spread the idea itself. And that’s what great movies are about: ideas.
Maybe there’s some true in the movies where they show us inequality in its worse shape.
Let’s shift gears for a second and find some real life situations. Not the obvious ones, but the situations that we have in front of us the whole time but don’t care to notice.

Inequality in school

I grew up in a really small village. Maybe at the time were 2000 people when I was living there. And that showed me early on what inequality meant, but I didn’t recognize it until I left that place and saw the real world.
Don’t think this gap between rich and poor is recent, it isn’t. It’s been happening for millennia. Just consider education and how rich people can afford to send their kids to better schools, get involved in better extracurricular activities and buy anything that could make the learning process fruitful.
I didn’t have that. And maybe you didn’t either.
When I was 11 years old teachers at my school decided that I couldn’t pass to the next grade and I had to repeat that grade again. So for the rest of my school days I had to be with kids a year younger than me.
It was a rough time. I hated school. I didn’t get along with kids in that village. And if that wasn’t enough, I couldn’t do any sports I wanted either (the only option was soccer, I wanted to play basketball but I couldn’t—we didn’t have any place to play).


That followed me for the rest of my “official” education. So, as expected, I ended up doing a poorly job at school.
Back then I thought repeating that grade was my fault, because I didn’t followed the rules. But over the years it became pretty clear that a couple of teachers weren’t doing their job.
It’s worth noticing that my story isn’t just particular to me. People have more serious problems than I had. Luckily, after repeating a few more grades, at 21 I could go to college without going into debt. That’s one of the best things in Europe, affordable education—at least for most people. But that would haven’t been the case in the US, or any other countries where people have to go into serious debt in order to go to college.
Now I see the importance of having good teachers. Some of them are great, but that’s rather the exception. Most of them don’t even know psychology or how to influence kids to become their best version.
People in big cities might get lucky in public school, and find great teachers. But the odds are that if you live in a small village, too far away from any civilized area, kids won’t have great teachers just like I hadn’t.
I could make an entire book about this topic, but it’s worth mentioning that private school isn’t the solution. And maybe private schools have other issues. But the thing is that if you have money, you can afford better teachers. And the same happens with healthcare and many other things. (I’m a big believer in public services, though.)
But this isn’t about education or healthcare. This is about how opportunity inequalities are all around us, especially the economic one. But, the one that’s coming is far worse than any inequality we’ve ever seen. Privacy inequality is the worse one in dehumanizing the people who won’t be able to afford to pay for it.
What, then, is privacy inequality?
What are the symptoms of this inequality?
What is their nature?
How are they different from the symptoms of economic inequality?
[Next week I’ll post the second part of this series. Subscribe here and get the next Private Wednesday’s article in your inbox]