You might be wondering what I’m referring to. Well, let’s be blunt. George Orwell was only off by 29 years in the name of his famous novel titled “1984”. And slightly off in his premise.
What do I mean? It’s been quite a few years since I read the book (almost 29 years) so my memory might be a bit off. But from what I recall, Big Brother is watching you is the basic tenet of the novel. And it’s not by choice. The population didn’t voluntarily allow it. It was imposed. And the population didn’t like it. I mean, who would? Having all your actions, information, location, status, etc. being tracked. Seems very intrusive. Especially when imposed on you.
But somehow, if it’s not imposed but voluntarily offered, it becomes acceptable to the population; hence where Orwell was off in his literary prediction. All the information we seek online is tracked (think cookies, etc.). All our social interactions are tracked and saved (think tweets, facebook posts, instagram photos, etc). Our exact whereabouts are tracked (think location services). And now it’s become obvious to everyone with the Prism scandal that it’s all available to Big Brother. Voluntarily. We’ve chosen to give up our privacy. We’ve chosen to give up our freedom. And we’ve chosen to be ignorant about it.
For the younger generations that are just being exposed to this new intrusion, it just seems like status quo. They don’t know any better. But for those of us that are just a bit older, it is truly unbelievable how open and accessible our personal lives have become to the world. Some gladly allow it. Others, not so much. But we are all responsible for it.
We’ve allowed Big Brother into our lives in a way that was not imaginable 25 years ago. And we’re happy to continually share oh so much about ourselves because it makes us feel important. We believe others actually care that we just had a cup of tea or received a new high score on a game. Maybe they do. I personally don’t.
Anyway, I think you get the gist of what I’m saying. Big Brother has figured out a way to be Big Brother. Not with force and not with coercion. Honestly, do you really think any of us would agree if Big Brother said here’s a device that you can carry with you at all times that tracks where you are, what you buy, where you shop, who you see, etc.? Of course not. But if its done voluntarily through social media, so we feel important, it’s ok. And Big Brother has realized that we all just want to feel important. But the price of that importance isn’t cheap. It’s freedom and privacy. Pretty awesome, don’t you think.
Reminds me of another work of art (being liberal with the use of the term). It was a song by the great rock band The Police. And they too, were early. The song was released in 1983 but may as well have been released when the Prism scandal erupted. The name of the song you may wonder? Well, here are the opening lyrics:
“Every breath you take and every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you
Every single day and every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you”