Dilemma of Knowledge – John Walls

So I find myself sitting on a park bench. I am staring at my phone. And I cannot decide what to do. I have information. Where it came from doesn’t matter. What I do with it could seriously change things. For the better, for some. For the worse for others.

I have the knowledge I need to delve deep into his life. At least, I think I do. A whole notebook full of the keys to his electronic life. And a memory stick. Modernity! Where it has taken us all? There is a startling vulnerability built into how we keep our information now.

Time was, some things were recorded on paper, but a lot of important stuff stayed in memory. Inside your head. And things said… well, they were not matters of record so much as the source of debate. Who said what and when.

E-mail, messenger, texts, recorded phone conversations. Videos, cameras, surveillance, spyware, hacking. The modern age has given us all this. Power to check on one another. The one thing that rather tenuously protects us is a series of codes, behind which we can hide. But if something happens to allow a break-in to the vault of secrets we all carry, what then? It’s like opening a cellar door, or someone pulling back the curtains to expose you, naked before the world.

What am I to do with this? The bastard tore me apart. He took my life, and turned it inside out. And left me in a dark, dark place, teeming with tormenting spiders and their repulsive cobwebs. I was trapped. No confidantes, no freedom to expose myself to the glare of others’ sympathy. I hid it. I just lived in the trap. Stuck, and waiting for the bite that would numb me, like a fly in a web. But it never came. I was not to be consumed. I was a plaything. Fun to torture. No final blow of release for me. I was to be preserved for his entertainment. Only the power of close friends and the courage to expose my plight allowed me to be where I am today.

Alone; or single, anyway. I have good friends, and my children, all grown adults and we remain close. And I am happy. But now. Now. What will I do? Revenge is sweet, they say. A dish best served cold.

There may be nothing there. I might look, but find nothing. Who am I kidding? He was always a creature of habit. There will be a minefield of deadly weapons I will find, if I open all these doors. I have all the keys. Facebook. Instagram. E-mail accounts. A copy of his hard drive. Best of all, if you like… I could access his bank accounts. All four of his accounts.

He left me in penury. Why would I not hit back? I could send him lower than I ever was. Would I enjoy it? This is so tempting, I think I will burst. On the other hand, am I better in ignorance? Where ignorance is bliss, tis a folly to be wise! There may be stuff I’d rather not know.

And I stare at my phone. Smartphone. More power in this slender device than I have ever held in my hand before. I couldn’t do more damage with a Kalashnikov, or a box of hand-grenades.

And I stare at my phone. And I stare at the notebook. And I stare at the memory stick. And I stare at a squirrel, and the dog-walkers. And I stare at the autumn leaves strew all over the grass. And it starts to rain. And I stare at the phone.

And I stare, and I think; and I stare, and I stare….

 

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Image: Lubo Minar on Unsplash

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