Transparency and Surveillance in this brave new world

Two sides of the same coin. What makes itself easily seen can be easily watched.

What is watched is not trusted.

A lesser known introduction to the 1990s was made alongside George Bush’s “New World Order” and Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history”.  1992’s Basic Instinct prophetized the rise of the online porn industry and one side of the cover for the surveillance state.

Prior to the 1990s there was an honored principle – privacy. When Americans no longer trusted themselves, finally breaking under the fear-driving of the Reagan Administration, they replaced privacy with transparency. Instead of wanting to not intrude upon others and not want to be intruded upon, they opened the doors wide and pried the doors of others open.

The Subway restaurant chain has grown into a global behemoth surpassing McDonald’s substantially as a result of their transparent meal preparation process.

One cover for this brave new world is the desire to save the world. Privacy limits the amount of information we have on each other, but when (arguably all of us) are trying to save the world, we need to break down all obstacles that prevent us from maximizing our knowledge, and what’s a little thing like privacy to stand in the way?

So privacy is antiquated, Americans tell us. Sigh, sigh, sigh, we just can’t afford privacy anymore.

The result is that we create humans whose identities form around their desire to be watched. So body consciousness, which we call shallow but in truth is no longer shallow, it’s a deep cultural reality at this point, is at a historical peak. Humans become drama queens, where everything in their life is super-important and of interest to everyone. One glimpse at “reality television” shows us the modern humans we are creating.

Humans become super-antisocial, of which the human networking trend is one example. When everyone is watching you and you lose the desire to be alone there’s no point in having an identity designed by oneself – one’s identity becomes what the viewers desire. Therefore one cannot be social, which implies the relating of oneself to another person, no more than a robot or a zombie can be social. Robots and zombies can do plenty of “social” networking though.

Oh we viewers are so special! Everything must bow before our gaze.

And, we grimly believe, everything will.

We are so brave to venture boldly into this new world without even a glance at our surroundings. Who needs to look around when we are the chosen ones who will save the world? Noone can tell us we’re wrong – we’re super right all the time!

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