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Plagues then and now: Blood, frogs and locusts are no match for the ravages of 2019

What would a modern-day Plague of Lice look like?

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Topic: Security
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1 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Plagues old and new

Every year, during Passover, Jews get together for a ritual festive meal, the Seder, and recount the Exodus, which is when their enslaved ancestors left ancient Egypt. Part of that story involves the telling of the 10 plagues, which the Lord brought upon the Egyptians as punishment.

First up: "With the staff that is in my hands I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink and the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water." -- Exodus 7:17-18 The Plague of Blood

What would a modern-day Plague of Blood look like?

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2 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

New: The Plague of Social Media

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, fake news, alternative facts, and sharing without fact checking: It's a poisoning of the web, just like the poisoning of the Nile. And just like the dead fish in the Plague of Blood reeked and stunk up everything and made the water undrinkable, the bile of the "lifestreams" has made our digital lives (which has arguably, taken up more time than our actual, non-digital ones) miserable and completely unpalatable.

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3 of 20 ZU_09 / Getty Images

Old: The Plague of Frogs

"The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials." -- Exodus 8:1-4

Flash forward to now: What's slimier than frogs?

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4 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

New: The Plague of Broken Tech

Some of our technology can be like kissing a frog instead of a prince. Defective smartphone batteries, unfixable phones and electronics, horrible wireless reception, abandoned IoT devices, infuriating voice response systems, endless notifications and cloud outages -- this is the Plague of Broken Technology.

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5 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Old: The Plague of Lice

"Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt." -- Exodus 8:16-17

Compare to the new millennium infestation...

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6 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

New: The Plague of Surveillance

Alexa, smart speakers, IoT devices, drones, facial recognition, photo and radar speed traps: We live in an age of constant surveillance. And like lice, it infests us. It's difficult to remove the infestation once it becomes part of everything.

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7 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Old: The Plague of Wild Beasts

The fourth plague of Egypt was of creatures capable of harming people and livestock. -- Exodus 8:20-32

Now we have beasts of the two-legged variety...

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8 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

New: The Plague of Isms

Sexism, incels, "bro culture," racism, white supremacism, anti-semitism, anti-LGBTQism, and gender pay inequality -- this is the Plague of -Isms. They are not beasts, per se, but the people who engage in it display their lack of humanity, and it harms everyone.

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9 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Old: The Plague of Pestilence

"If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the LORD will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field -- on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats." -- Exodus 9:1-3

Compare to the epidemic we suffer from today...

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10 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

New: The Plague of Mental Illness

Depression and anxiety, obesity, addiction, loneliness, fear. These are not new conditions; they've been around forever. But we live in an age where these are now epidemics -- just as pestilence was upon the land of Egypt in The Bible.

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11 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Old: The Plague of Boils

"Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on men and animals throughout the land." -- Exodus 9:8-9

What festers in 2019?

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12 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

New: The Plague of Social Disorders

An obsession with nostalgia, superficiality, imposter syndrome, the Dunning-Kruger effect, passive aggression -- these are all modern social disorders that are seemingly infectious, like the Boils upon the Egyptians.

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13 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Old: The Plague of Hail and Fire

"I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every man and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die." -- Exodus 9:13-24

Can't get any worse. Or can it?

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14 of 20 Broken Screen Wallpaper 45

New: The Plague of the Black Mirror

Sex robots, CRISPR babies, biological warfare, Big Pharma, the Chinese "social credit" system: This is the Plague of the Black Mirror, the evil side of tech.

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15 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Old: The Plague of Locusts

"I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians --something neither your fathers nor your forefathers have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now." -- Exodus 10:3-6

What form of parasites infests us today?

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16 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

New: The Plague of Web Parasites

Malware, botnets, spam, phishing, trolls and cyber bullies, sexting: The parasites of the web are all around us, and they infest everything.

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17 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Old: The Plague of Darkness

"Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt -- darkness that can be felt." -- Exodus 10:21-23

Our darkness is of the intellectual variety...

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18 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

New: The Plague of Willful Ignorance

Anti-science, anti-vaxxing, climate change denial, illiteracy, fundamentalism, Luddism and anti-tech, anti-marijuana laws: This is the Plague of the Hatred of Expertise, or Willful Ignorance. Intellectual darkness.

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19 of 20 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Old: The Plague of the Death of the Firstborn

"About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt -- worse than there has ever been or ever will be again." -- Exodus 11:4-6

Free at last?

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20 of 20 Getty Images/iStockphoto

New: The Plague of Evil Leadership

As Pharaoh was an evil leader that kept the Hebrews enslaved, in modern times, we also have evil leaders that keep their subjects in a state of fear and who are unable to shed themselves from the trappings of all the modern plagues of social and technological bondage we've mentioned here. Will knowledge and education prevail and eventually free us from tyranny?

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