We were first introduced to Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Since then that mythical character has taken root in the world’s culture as an example of big government gone decidedly wrong. One can’t deny the similarities exiting between the fictitious, totalitarian republic of Oceania and many of today’s societies, ours included. GPS and surveillance cameras along with secret prisons where habeas corpus is non-existent, were all an integral part of that mid twentieth century tale, and yet now, are all a part of our every day lives. And in still another example of art imitating real life, we learned Thursday that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been sifting through our phone records for years since 9/11, with the permission of the carrier, Verizon. Why people are outraged, I don’t quite fathom. And I don’t understand because more so than the government, we’ve become accustomed to spying and prying into our neighbor’s affairs and we’ve become pretty good at it since we’ve been doing it for some time now.
Once we were happy to be isolated from one another. We knew we weren’t alone and could find a friend when needed but each of us had at our disposal an occasion to raise a barrier of sorts that afforded some protection from the prying eyes and ears of those bent on doing us harm, or those who were simply nosier than was necessary. We came inside our homes, closed our doors and pulled down our shades. We took our phones off the hook and kept out of sight when we chose to. We existed in our singular castles, lowering the drawbridge and offering access only to the few and the vetted. But then, something happened that changed us and our perception of that treasured, privileged right. That which we previously guarded so judiciously is these days now readily surrendered for the sake of utility and oftentimes, status.
Consider this: every time we tweet a clever phrase or turn of the tongue, we give away a piece of our intellectual property; all the while gathering followers who expect us to continue to do so. Hearts are laid bare as we update our statuses on Facebook, either because of a sincere desire to find some sort of support in the proceedings or simply to keep up with the Jones. Whatever the reasons why we do so, once we do we can’t take it back. We’ve created an atmosphere of expectation, of wanting and of relinquishment. We, as members of society, have opened that Pandora’s Box ourselves. Is it any wonder then that the government would attempt to benefit from the relaxed atmosphere of acceptance that exists in this day and age of social media?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to beat up on Facebook or Twitter. There is a place for social media in today’s society; we’ve seen the benefit their use can provide during troubled times. Lives were undoubtedly saved in Oklahoma because of people being able to notify each other via their smart phones and on Facebook. All sorts of beneficial platforms and apps exist that can provide immense relief in a variety of situations. Still, the current way we utilize those same platforms opens each of our lives up to the other, oftentimes unfortunately, to our individual detriment. But yet, we continue to log on. As we persist, despite our concerns over our loss of liberty, real or imagined, isn’t it disingenuous of us to expect our government to provide us with something that we seem to no longer hold that near and dear to our hearts? I think so. I’m just saying…