Dear Editor, 

I’m driving across the country from California to Pennsylvania. As many I-80 travelers do, I decided to stay overnight in Winnemucca, where in the morning 

I got coffee at Java Town and bought a copy of The Humboldt Sun, because I like to support local journalism.

In the opinion section, I saw two commentaries side by side, one by Tony Lesperance and another by Dan O’Connor. Both had a common theme – that “the elites” want to control your life – in O’Connor’s words, by instituting “medical martial law” in response to COVID-19.

For those of you who have similar feelings, I offer solace. If we define the elites as, say, captains of the tech industry and cynical politicians…well, they have no personal interest in your life. Not in your faith, not in your opinions, not in who you sleep with, not in who you aspire to be. 

They want two things: Your money and your vote.

hen why would Facebook, Google, Amazon and the rest want to harvest every scrap of data about you they possibly can? As a journalist who has covered Big Tech for 35 years, I can tell you with complete assurance that these companies’ single-minded goal is to get you click on ads and buy products. Period. That’s it.

But what about Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates? At this point, they’re barely involved in the companies they created, which are giant money-making machines dedicated to knowing what you might be inclined to buy next. Any personal or political opinions held by current or former executives at these companies are irrelevant to that overwhelming goal. “You” to them are simply an anonymous collection of previous clicks and purchases from which they determine buying intentions.

To get your vote, politicians and their organizations have borrowed from Big Tech. If your profile indicates that you probably love Donald Trump, liberal organizations have written you off, because their predictive models indicate that even the most expensive marketing efforts will not change your mind. 

Likewise, if you support progressive causes, conservative organizations have decided you’re not worth the effort. Instead, both sides dedicate their troves of money and effort and advertising to getting their own voters to the polls.

So to those who assert elites are trying to control what you think or believe, I say: You have it upside-down. The elites want to know everything about what you like in order to sell you more of it. Ever joined a wine club? 

Thanks to modern technology, the entire wine industry knows that and wants to entice you, customer #715471336, to buy more wine. Do you delve into internet conspiracies about Dominion voting machines and the Great Plandemic? Here, have as many extra helpings of that as you like, peppered with ads featuring gun-toting candidates and miracle supplements.

The elites spend tens of billions of dollars to collect and process data about you so they can extract more money and more votes. Beyond those transactions, where’s the payoff in trying to control your life? There’s no return on that investment.

Eric Knorr

Somewhere on Route 80