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The Idea of Privacy in Today’s Society

Posted by on July 6, 2013

Wonder’s Word on the Idea of Privacy in Today’s Society

I think that I have had first hand experience of what it’s like to be constantly monitored – never knowing when they are watching you, always wondering if what you are doing will be perceived as wrong in their eyes, constantly thinking of how to communicate around them, hoping beyond all hope that what you are doing is right, and always…always…in fear and self-doubt.

Questions often arise: Is it worth it? Is it necessary? Is it normal? And often these questions can’t be answered, even under normal circumstances. But now we sit in a different situation – one where we don’t know that we are being monitored. It’s a simple scenario of the Hawthorne Effect in practice. Naturally people will act better when they know they are under surveilance! But if they do not know, then they have no information to make them believe that they should be acting otherwise! As such, we have people monitoring people in their “natural environment”, so to speak, and gaining insights into our “natural behaviour” without having a direct influence on our actions. It’s the perfect, one hundred percent objective, generalisable field experiment. And doesn’t that make you feel like a lab rat…

But wait, it get’s even better; this force that is watching us has no name – no persona that we can pile up the blame onto – and, as such, has no one to answer to. All of those questions that we have as soon as we discover we have been violated – ordinary people doing ordinary things day-to-day under the pretense that they are safe from prying minds – we have no one to direct our questions to. And, of course, no way to know what they have on us… The internet was meant to be anonymous; the perfect grounding for freedom of expression and speach. But now we have an anonymous enemy to face – one who has a power much greater than ours…one whose power hits us much harder than our words…one who can silence even the loudest of voices…one whose power stems from simply watching; collecting the information slowly and compiling files which could one day – possibly – be used against us. And that’s the biggest potential threat yet.

But, like the Hawthorne Effect expresses, even we can’t monitor our own actions constantly without falling back into the habit of our own personas. We cannot pretend to be that which we are not. I used to think if you beleived in the pretense, then it would become a reality, but to believe in something that is not “you” is simple treason unto yourself.

So what can we do? We can’t fight that which we cannot see. We can’t fight that which we do not understand. We can’t fight that which we do not know. How much more violated, insecure, and powerless do you want to feel?…However, even if we had the means, we can’t just pick up arms and eliminate this thing – because there is “just cause” for it…Not withstanding people’s need for their privacy, there is also a need to identify those secrets which have been kept hidden for the pupose of one day causing harm upon others. Of course I’m referring to acts of terrorism. As such, there is little else to do but acknowledge that this power is necessary…and do what only humans should do: act as the greatest we can be every day, and hope that our actions are right. And if they aren’t right in other people’s eyes, then defend what we do with morale integrity. It is not much of an answer, I’ll be the first to admit, but if I am ashamed to share my actions, then I should not have done them in the first place.

And as for those actions which aren’t exactly the most honourable…well, those I’ll keep off the internet.

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WonderWhiteRabbit wrote a poem related to this topic

* * *

The Ever Watchful Eye

Only the Heavens were meant to watch

And see all humanity’s faults

Only the Gods were meant to judge

And witness each man’s demise


Only now we have the eye –

Ever watchful and intent –

Only glancing at each move we make

With innumerable spies


Only seeing for a moment

What incorporates our lives

Only taking note of us

Through its anonymous disguise


Only for us to fall

Into its grasp of secrets…

Only then are we aware

Of its presence and lies


Only the eye has power

Over all it hides inside;

Only then do we lack answers

From our whens, hows, and whys…


Only the Heavens were meant to watch

And see all humanity’s faults

Only now we have the eye…

Where anything private dies.

* * *

WonderWhiteRabbit hopping off

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