I have been using my old laptop from my graduation days and today I just ventured into the bookmarks tab to see what all I had dog-eared thinking I’ll need some day. A tiny part of me hoped for a small “Letter to the dear 28-year-old self” that I had stashed away and possibly forgotten. Instead, I stumbled upon links from a few years ago that I had bookmarked on my browser as go-to for downloading movies, songs and software like Pirate Bay, fourshared, songs pk etc., And as a girl who belongs to a respectable family (read wuss, scared to shit about getting caught) downloading adult films was a no-no. I also remembered the various torrent hubs, peers, the IsoHunts and the how we use to work our way around the college’s network policies to find a way into pirating things. I was really proud of how I could find any song on the internet with just a few clicks (them good ol’ days!). And that thrill of doing something illegal, mixed with fear of hitting a malicious ware and the guilt (that, not so much right?) was priceless! Frankly, I felt like the world of internet owed me that much, a student with a meagre pocket money slogging my way through graduation. Well, on a side note, this did continue until I landed a corporate job, startups don’t really pay that much and duh, they can’t afford a fancy firewall protection either. So Yay me!
Remember when we google the names of movies, we automatically click on the suggestion that says “…download for free” or even “…watch for free”. Whatever happened to that? I had a boss who used to buy movies from Amazon US store cause he does not believe in piracy, I for one did not adhere to such labels, actually, the correct term is that ‘I cannot afford to adhere to them’. I guess one could argue the same for vegans – they are those people who can afford to load up their refrigerators with soy milk, tofu and almond butter and I will never be one until Amul, Nandhini or Hatsun starts making them, at the same throwaway prices as their regular milk and paneer.
So, where did this transition happen and when did I change into the consumer who pays for everything and watches, reads and listens to music legally? As I question myself, I realise that now I have an app which helps me search and see which of my other subscribed apps have the movie or shows on. I even prefer paying a monthly subscription to iTunes to be able to download songs offline. Pfft, worse, I even have a bunch of apps, I paid for on my phone! Why did I never wonder why?
Did it stop when I no longer had movies to offload from roommates’ hard disks? Or when I no longer had to share my music library with someone? Did I just plain stopped having time to hunt for things online? Oh, is it because of the cheaper internet options available at our doorstep with so many gigabytes of data that beg to be used? That should actually make searching for pirated stuff faster. Right? Or, did the government put us up to this? One more question that I put on the back burner for a while now is – Have I stooped so low, letting these endless subscription-based apps gain access to my personal data, by happily signing up with my Facebook and Google credentials? All that so I can watch a censored yet legal GoT episode with in-built subtitles? In other words, have I started putting my privacy at stake over non-piracy? Well, I don’t know.
No one can actually put a date on it but I guess maybe it started when the corporates you work for put a bug on your computer to make sure torrents don’t work and encrypted your USB drives. Possible right?. Mostly, I believe it is because I started earning. A mere 500 rupees a month for an app you use everyday seems so affordable. Think about it, that’s how much you spend on just one drink when you go out with friends – that’s what my stupid brain said! But these 500s and 1000s add up and that’s when you realise, the cost has snowballed just like when you have over-shopped yourself at a Decathlon! You know that feeling!
Nevertheless, I am glad it happened. I do feel disconnected and wonder if the kids of this generation actually do have access to free range pirated content. Do they? ‘Cause I feel like they should realise the painstaking process of hunting for things in a massive pile of data, getting perturbed when they get to an empty zip file, to be able to finally appreciate how well designed and user-friendly these paid apps are and how they have made your life so much easier to well, waste more time online. I know you might judge me for saying this but, I enjoy this hassle-free and guilt-free entertainment I have gotten myself to like. As far as piracy vs privacy is concerned, I guess that’s a long debated topic, so lets doggie ear that to a later date. I’m glad at least we are aware of the possible dangers lurking behind those little blue thumbs ups.
And as I ponder, I wonder if I would ever be able to go back to those days of sourcing entertainment, assuming the torrents and pirated websites still work, savaging through endless lists of malicious ware… I highly doubt it. Would you?