From PC to GDPR, the modern world truly is a strange place

On the one hand, Political Correctness has gone completely overboard, while side by side with that movement the yearning to ‘tell all to everyone’ seems to be all pervasive, so says John Arnold in his weekly column
From PC to GDPR, the modern world truly is a strange place

TECHNOLOGY AT YOUR FINGERTIPS: But John Arnold finds our bold, new computerised world frustrating.

WELL, I had to write to a financial institution lately, they gave me the loan of some money a few years back.

They had contacted me early in the New Year to basically say they were a bit worried about the loan. Well, says I, there’s no point in me worrying about it as well!

In terms of paying my debts, I have what might be termed a ‘good credit rating’ — in other words I’ve never failed to pay what I owed. Granted, on occasions, it took longer than planned, but sure that happens to the best of them.

Anyway, a girl rang me on Tuesday in relation to my fiscal position. Initially, I told her who I was — but then she knew already as ’twas she made the call in the first place!

She wanted my full name “for verification and clarification purposes,” says she. I told her my full and unabridged version ‘John Anthony Mary Brendan’ — explaining that the initial three were given to me at my christening in the last century and that I took Brendan for Confirmation.

To be honest, I was about to tell her the exploits of Brendan the navigator and how he left Kerry and discovered America before Columbus’s grandfather was born, but she seemed a tad disinterested.

Next, she asked what was my date of birth. Well, says I, “sure, I’m absolutely certain when I came into the world” and I explained that when I took out the loan in question that I gave all those details. 

“You know your date of birth,” says she, “and I know your date of birth, but I need you to tell me what it is” — lads, talk about information overload!

She explained that she needed to be certain she was actually talking to me and not an impostor, therefore she needed my ‘personal details’ including telephone number. But, says I, “you’ve just rang me so you know my number”. 

Same story! 

“You know the number and I know the number but I need you to confirm to me that this number is in fact your number.” 

Leave me alone, I thought, as I was nearly fit to end the call, but patience is a virtue so I held on.

I had a mind to tell the girl about my physical features — freckles, foxy hair (nearly all gone now), appendix gone since 1968 and two hips done — but I bit my upper lip and continued to politely answer the security questions.

Eventually, I convinced her that ’twas me here in my own house, on my own phone, talking about the money that I had got the loan of.

Trying to lighten the conversation a bit, I chanced asking: “Any chance at all of a bit of a reduction — a write down or a write off?” 

There followed a solemn silence — yerra, I thought she was gone to ask the manager but alas, no, she told me that if I owed say 20 or 50 times my borrowings I might have some chance of a ‘discount’. In bank terms I’m just one of the little people — why oh why, I thought, didn’t I go the whole hog all those years ago when negotiating this, by now, ancient loan?

I’m glad I hadn’t made the call because I get so frustrated with ‘Press 1 for this and 2 for that and 3 for the other’ — usually, after pressing what you think is closest to what you want, you are greeted with ‘ A Customer Service Agent will deal with you shortly, you are No.43 in the Q’. After boiling the kettle and making a cup of tea you came back and listen to Greenssleeves for another five minutes, oh lads, ’tis awful.

All that was bad enough, but now we have this DPRGTUNBHIFL business — you know what I mean, the Data Protection Regulations Guidelines, etc, etc, etc. They tell me now that if I am asked for someone’s telephone number, address or email details, that I should first check with the ‘owner’ of this information if it’s OK to pass it on to a third party.

I respect people’s privacy, but what is the world coming to at all? While the EU, the UN and God knows who else are bringing in all these rules and regulations about minding our ‘data’, half the world’s population apparently are on Headbook, Whatsup, Twitter and whatever, telling the other half of the population every intimate and silly details of their lifestyle.

Maybe so many people are lonely, maybe they want company or attention or have an addiction to ‘going public’. I certainly don’t need to know what clothes people wear or take off or where they are, were or plan going on holidays.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these so-called social media sites and depots are great for the bit of news or gossip, but save me from the gruesome details of high fibre, low carbon, vegan and no calorie diets. On the one hand, Political Correctness has gone completely overboard, while side by side with that movement the yearning to ‘tell all to everyone’ seems to be all pervasive.

Our herd of cows are just beginning to come into the calving season. Already this week we have two calves. I’d love to tell ye all about them and their mothers. In fact, one of the pair calved has her own mother and grandmother also in out herd.

There’s a great story about the old cow taking an underwear item from a clothes line near the paddock where they were grazing a few years back. However, under Bovine Data Protection I am forbidden from divulging the details and of course I can’t tell ye any details of the two new doty little calves.

They say that from next year on there will be no players’ names on GAA programmes for big games as their publication would infringe intellectual property rights. The programmes will just have numbers 1 to 15 and the jerseys will correspond.

The main content of the 40-page programmes will be outlining the new GAADP Official Guide and players will be richly compensated for not having their names or photographs on the programmes.

I hear that later this year we are having another referendum, this time about songs. Hits like Joe Dolan’s You’re Such A Good Looking Woman are to be banned from the airways because they can be offensive to men who are not regarded as good looking. Another old favourite for the chop will be Dermot O’Brien’s classic The Galway Shawl. You see, there’s a line that goes ‘She wore no jewels, no costly diamonds, no paint ‘nor powder, no none at all’. These words are deemed to be derogatory and even inflammatory to women of the fairer sex as they imply poverty of fashion and make-up.

The groundswell of opinion in favour of this forthcoming vote was galvanised into action after their successful pre-Christmas campaign recently. The PC brigade were outraged and livid over the classic Baby, It’s Cold Outside and got it de-listed. Where’s is all going to end?

I suppose, strictly speaking, my little picture shouldn’t appear on this page in case ’t’would cause offence to anyone or frighten the children before they go to bed.

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