Surveillance Enthusiasts: Pleasure, Power & Fear

“The measure of how free a society is, is not how it treats its good, obedient, compliant citizens. But how it treats its dissidents, and those who resist orthodoxy.”-Glenn Greenwald

It is no secret anymore that we are all members of a surveillance society, with the words of Orwell’s 1984 beginning to lift right off the page into our daily lives. When I am asked whether or not our future will look Orwellian or Huxleyan–one driven by fear and the latter driven by pleasure and status–I tell them that it is a combination of both. On the one hand, we are driven by entertainment and pleasure, capable of satisfying every type of pleasure visually and physically. But we are also driven by fear in a culture where the type of vernacular one uses can get one called numerous names (racist, homophobic, etc..) that never seeks to have a discussion but to shut the mouths of those the system disagrees with. In an age of 24 hour news, the majority of news stories that get covered are not about the actual content but the ones who are speaking of the content. We truly live an age where the one who asks the questions is being questioned more than the one’s who are required to give answers to the questions.

So, it is no secret anymore.

Whenever Ed Snowden made a splash onto the public, many were skeptical. Why would this matter? By releasing all of the information he had been working on as a contractor for the NSA, Snowden was either very brave or very stupid.

What was uncovered was a very secret government plot to gather as much intelligence as possible in a post-9/11 world to stop the bad guys and protect the good guys. We believed this optimistically like a bunch of a sheep who thought we were being led by a gracious shepherd, when in reality we were being led to the slaughter. It wasn’t long before we were giving a hearty “amen” to drones overseas, that Snowden helped the nation see that drones were being flown over private property, as well as agents gathering data from every click and curiosity in your google search engine. Out of fear, and a hunger for comfort and safety, our government was able to pull the wool over our eyes and began gathering emails and numerous cables of information from millions of Americans that they had no business gathering.

Do we care?

Do we just want to be safe so bad that we will give up liberties?

Do we truly believe that privacy and freedom are different?

Conformity is the experience that the majority of us had in public school. But it is not only the experience we are raised in, but the way of life we are expected to adopt if we are to benefit from our societies many blessings. I am not a fear monger. I simply want people to take courage and speak truth to power.

Why does this matter?

The video I embed here is a TED talk given by one of the greatest journalists of our times, Glenn Greenwald.