Into the first few pages of 1984 and I was struck by the total lack of privacy of the citizens in fictional London. They even have a Thought Police who will come into the night and arrest you for committing a thought crime–any untoward thought and plot against the Party. It struck me how technology today has become a huge distraction from living our lives and that privacy is slowly becoming a thing to take for granted.
Take Twitter and Facebook. We all love to share every awesome part of our daily lives to the world. And who can shut us up when our overflowing thoughts translate into tweets? Only the Twitter Jail, when you reach the cap of a thousand tweets a day. Can you imagine a world so advanced yet so oppressive that you cannot filter what is being shared to anyone who has internet access? Imagine when every movement, every word you utter is being heard, watched, monitored by the government. Like Orwell’s telescreen installed in everyone’s houses to keep track of the lives of the people and to make sure that they are not rebelling against the Party.
What if the future of social networking promises to directly and automatically translate what you’re thinking, when you’re thinking it into tweets and Facebook statuses; upload photos of every mundane thing you’re doing, deprived of a choice not to upload embarrassing ones?
We take privacy for granted because we know that we can always retreat into our corners and choose radio silence once in a while.
Yet we don’t and instead, choose to pose as a creature of overflowing thoughts and activity that we have to share to the public via SNS. Twitter makes us feel like celebrities, that people we know and strangers alike would be interested in the minute detail of what we do and what we don’t, what we like and dislike, where we go and when we go. Who would ever know, it’s all a projection? That our true selves are not even a quarter of what we project in our tweets? Only our close friends and family. Half of them isn’t even on Twitter.
Can you imagine if technology can monitor your every move instead of choosing just what piece of information to share? Humble brags have been birthed since but of course, we omit a lot of things we don’t want people to know.
Facebook makes us feel connected even to the people we barely see in real life. It’s a good thing until cyber bullying and trolling were invented. You see, we are like electric sheep, sometimes. Most of us would conform to avoid rejection and one or another would rally against it until it’s gone viral and we take sides.
Remember Amalayer? It’s so easy to judge her sitting from our high horses and say, “Respect begets respect.” and mock her of her many grammar lapses while she bitches on the lady guard. She has become a classic victim of cyber bullying after some guy thought it funny to videotape her little episode and upload it on YouTube. To think that majority of the Filipinos hated the Anti-Cyber Crime Law. I understood now, why. We didn’t want to shut up just when we can feel superior over other people.
What happened to Amalayer scares me. Privacy slowly dissolving, CCTV cameras everywhere, smartphones with cameras and internet connection. At one point or another in your short life, you have been rude to another person. You’re just lucky no one videotaped you being an asshole and uploaded it on Youtube.
I think of Orwell’s protagonist, Winston Smith, and how he despairs the complete lack of privacy. How he hates being watched by the telescreen and the Inner Party, most of all. Yet here we are, A.D. 2012, and we can’t stop bragging, sharing and telling the world what we’re doing. It’s like we’re deliberately shucking privacy off this world.
Not all thoughts are golden.
Imagine if Twitter has been invented forty years ago. But you can’t control the tweets being sent.
So. Should I stop using any of my social networks now? Nope. I might not hear of the government take over of the internet if I’m not on Twitter.
That’s when I’ll deactivate my account.