why big brother will always be watching

No one wants the authorities snooping on them 24/7. So why did they vote for politicians who promised to do exactly that and delivered on that promise?

big brother poster

Privacy is a very relative concept today. Whether we like it or not, we’re constantly watched by someone, many things we do everyday are committed to some computer archive or a data bank, and governments have laws that allow them to bypass warrants and parts of due process in the name of safety and national security. You aren’t just being paranoid. Somebody could very well be watching you. And absurdly enough, while most of us object to living in a world where it’s so easy to track our movements, quite a few of the same people support surveillance programs that blur the line between authoritarian snooping and stopping potential evildoers.

We don’t like to be watched or know that someone could see what sites we surfed a few days ago or what we bought at the store the other day. But we sure do want to know what someone else, someone we don’t know, may be doing. Could he be an evil mastermind in hiding? A terrorist waiting for the call to strike? A dangerous maniac on the verge of snapping and shooting up a random group of people out of rage? What happens if we miss the warning signs and let him do whatever they want, unchecked until it’s too late to stop him? Maybe if we track where he goes and keep constant tabs on them, everything will work out for the best. Is it really such a big deal if we stretch the laws just a little to stop a disaster? After all, it’s all in the name of protecting lives or ensuring peace. And it really is. The only problem is that the strangers who we don’t mind being watched also look at you the same way. How do they know you’re not the criminal/maniac/terrorist? Someone better keep an eye on you. You know, just in case…

Perhaps one of the most alarming things about governments that are always watching, is that they don’t just spring into place in a democratic country. Instead, they’re born out of fear, out of our demands that those who govern protect us from the dangerous lawbreakers in our midst and if we can prevent a crime by prying deep into their lives, it’s a cost we’re willing to bear. However, the same people who tend to demand having the Big Brother system of crime prevention seem to forget that the laws apply to them as well. They complain about a random inspection at the airport or having their luggage inspected without their consent. They recoil at having government agencies request to listen in on their phone calls or being tracked by security cameras as they go about their day. All the while they ask who would set up a system that puts them under 24/7/365 scrutiny with no probable cause. The answer? We did by asking for it and using safety as a political card in elections and lawmaking. In our paranoia, rather than looking behind us, we started looking at each other.

# politics // government / security / surveillance

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