I know one thing which has always worried civil liberties folks is the issue of surveillance. And surveillance has been used for a long ass time to figure out what’s really going in in various groups. I mean, look at all the bugs and so on invented by the CIA. When my cousin went crazy he kept being terrified of being surveilled by the government. I realized it was an interesting use of force.
The Panopticon is a model for a prison proposed by Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. It was designed with a central observatory post surrounded by cells which could be seen at all times theoretically. This constant surveillance was supposed to provide moral guidance. If you are always being watched, then you will always be “normalized.” Foucault expanded on this concept by using it to discuss surveillance. He saw that this kind of All Seeing eye was a replacement for God. If God can see everything you do he can judge you, and if you know God is watching then you won’t do bad things. But that was subverted, suddenly someone else became God and surveillance became a disciplinary force.
Do you know most cameras in public don’t even connect to a VCR? I mean, who actually wants to sit around watching an ATM all the time? Some cameras are connected to real people, like the ones at the Sky Train in case someone looks like they’re going to jump. You just never know.
So I decided to put myself under surveillance for ten years. I mean, if they really wanted to know what I was doing, why not? I was just doing stupid shit anyway. And I knew they wanted thoughts, so I told all my thoughts. Why not? And the funny thing is, nothing I said mattered because by definition I was the lowest on the totem pole in this society. I was a person of colour, queer, a girl, poor, etc etc. It didn’t matter if I was intelligent or not, by virtue of my identity I was a nobody. And by virtue of my identity I was everything people are supposed to be ashamed of.
So I thought fuck it, why should I be ashamed? And I spent my time under surveillance being shamelessly me. And yet, since I was a nobody, no one really cared what I thought. But they did care that I wasn’t ashamed, and if someone as worthless as me wasn’t ashamed then why did they have to be ashamed. And so the internet became one big reality show.
And the mainstream caught on, suddenly reality shows were the big thing, because they didn’t really know why so many people were interested in mundane daily life things. So we got goofy reality television, shows like Big Brother and Survivor and so on. And people really liked it, because suddenly ANYBODY could be a star just by exposing themselves on television . . .
Or on the internet, where there were no corporate censors.
The problem with a world that loves reality shows is if you do it in a country which is also war mongering and celebrates war, then war itself becomes one big reality show. It was exciting for the people involved, because war always excites people, I’m not sure why. So then you send out soldiers who are trained to believe the world is a reality show, and they didn’t honestly know that they were doing illegal things. Because their community encouraged it. Their spiritual leaders preached hate. Their government preached hate. Their friends preached hate. They recieved orders which didn’t conflict with their hate ideology either. And so realistically, they were showing the reality of war to people who were encouraging it. They became surveilled, by their own hand. And there wasn’t that moral compass of the fear of being surveilled anymore, because how can you fear surveillance if you’re the people doing it?