Michael Maiello's picture

    A Society Of Snoops and Tattletales

    This afternoon, Reuters published an Op-Ed from me about the online investigations into the Boston bomb attack.  I am very concerned about the "if you see something, say something culture," and how it has mixed with technology to create something of a society full of amateur detectives and complainers.

    Civil libertarians are most concerned about government surveilance power and that, of course, bothers me too.  But in a practical sense, a nosy neighbor is probably more of an imposition on my life than the government will ever choose to be.  These days, your nosy neighbor could be a stranger living thousands of miles away.

    I get into that in the column.  I'd add here that I'm also concerned about the use of cell phone cameras to record stills and video of just about every bit of public misbehavior, however frivolous it might be, and the now constant threat of being shamed for acting out in ways that, in previous generations, would have been quickly forgotten.

    We are watching and recording each other.  We are investigating each other.  We are, in some ways, our own secret police.  Strange times.



    Great piece.

    But if so many in Chelyabinsk didn't have video cameras mounted and running in their cars, we wouldn't have those cool videos of that exploding meteor!

    The success of Facebook seems to say millions don't care about their privacy, or having their likes and life sold to the highest corporate bidder.

    millions don't care about their privacy

    I don't condone that nonchalance, but I do understand it. They think like this:

    Nothing to hide, no doubts about self, and foreseeing no possibilities of change....


    The slippery slope. Keep looking out your window; your paranoia is reasonable. Especially if you see jack booted brown shirts downstairs, standing next to the neighbor lady, (you've never liked, because you know she's always been envious) you can't hear what she's saying, but shes pointing up at your upstairs apt that overlooks the bay; you better be politically correct and not having the wrong cook books or your new residence might be Gauntanamo Bay. ....Many people have asked about the past; how was it the German people could turn in their Jewish friends; this is how it starts.  If you were in Afghanistan your Afghan neighbors who covet your piece of land, trump up charges against you in collusion with other coveters; turning you in for a reward and take your land, they knowing;  you're never coming back . 

    I think you got more specific in to what I wrote in "Fear Itself," which I just contributed here.

    It's not good at all that, as you say, "We are watching and recording each other.  We are investigating each other.  We are, in some ways, our own secret police." What that shows is a serious lack of trust in one another that is not even founded on actual, real grievances but just a general, all encompassing mistrust.


    The first thing to pop into mind is the plethora of software that can "photoshop " those photos and videos.

    I think that's scary too.  Practically speaking, most law enforcement would see right through that after an investigation.  But you could still wind up investigated for something you didn't do and, even if exonerated, the mere association with certain acts can be ruinous.

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