Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess


We Are Our Own Big Brother
May 1, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter

Anyone else feeling a bit like Winston Smith lately? Social Media has invaded every aspect of our lives. We suddenly know when our coworkers are going out for a night on the town, get live scoops on how hot (or not) our friends’ dates are, discover that they’re playing hooky from work, and learn things about our high school classmates later on in life that we never wanted to know.

What’s going on right now is a true testament to the saying, ‘Be careful what you ask for.’ We asked to be more connected – we got it. We wanted to have faster and more accessible means with which to stay in touch with our friends, family, and in some cases co-workers. BAM – wish granted. But with much power comes much responsibility. And in this case – much paranoia over who’s watching us and why.

We have essentially created our own 1984.

I read 1984 in high school. For those who aren’t familiar with the book, it was published in 1949 by a brilliant author, George Orwell, who also wrote the well-known Animal Farm. The basic gist of the novel, and what it’s so famous for, is its portrayal of pervasive government surveillance and control – as well as government’s increasing encroachment on the rights of the individual. (which is a whole other topic I don’t have the time to get into right now!)

One of the most famous ‘characters’ to come out of 1984 is ‘Big Brother’. Big Brother, or the concept of him, essentially was used to monitor the every move of the citizens of Oceania, and to keep them in line. In Orwell’s world this was accomplished through telescreens, Thought Police, and through devices that would control citizens’ thoughts.

Think about where Social Media is today: we have the ability to read (on our telescreens, or computers) daily updates on Facebook or through SMS on our phones, follow career paths on LinkedIn, watch live lifestreams from Ustream, Oovoo, and Stickam, and essentially follow every waking moment of a person’s life on Twitter and FriendFeed. We monitor each others’ every moves, condemning each other when we either make mistakes or think differently from what we believe should be correct. We have the ability to make or break each other’s online reputations with a swift keystroke, and we constantly remind each other – and worry ourselves – that there’s always someone watching us online.

We are our own Big Brother.

We created this online world – we grow it, we participate in it, we moderate it.

And there is no one to blame for the extreme lack of privacy we are experiencing but ourselves.

After all – we asked for it.

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1 Comment so far
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Very true, it’s our own personal 1984, which we were always so afraid of. The beauty of this is, of course, that you can control, at least in the beginning and in theory, how much information you give to Big Brother, aka Internet. And yes, Mr. Orwell was certainly very ahead of his time with his fiction.

Comment by Judy Jenner




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