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Why Do We Expose Ourselves?


Why Do We Expose Ourselves?

Astra Taylor

Among critics of technological surveillance, there are two allusions so commonplace they have crossed into the realm of cliché. One, as you have probably already guessed, is George Orwell’s Big Brother, from 1984. The other is Michel Foucault’s panopticon — a vision, adapted from Jeremy Bentham, of a prison in which captives cannot tell if or when they are being watched. Today, both of these touchstones are considered chillingly prophetic.


Ms. Taylor, while you make an interesting case, the following assertion is not true:

"Oceania’s “Hate Week” is nowhere to be found."

Hate Week may not be found where you cyber surf but have you checked out a Donald Trump rally lately? Listened to Glenn Beck or any of the Media Propagandists so intent on blaming the very Muslim community so brutally bludgeoned by a sickeningly martial foreign policy... for what's done unto them. Of course, it's couched in this idea of Terrorism which conveniently turns the predator into the prey. It's message, since you seem to have missed it is ALL HATE, all the time.

I also challenge the idea that EVERYONE is willingly participating in the Panopticon that Big Brother used our Tax Dollars to engineer.

Like many in my generation, I find Facebook uncomfortable. I certainly don't put my business out there, as the saying goes. I think this appeals more to the young.

Listening to an intelligent economist lately, he pointed out that since big recessions/depressions occur at approximate 80-year intervals, those who experienced the last one have largely died out. That means there are no living witnesses to the trials of that era.

I would say that kids today have NO IDEA what a genuine surveillance state looks and feels like. The experience of East Germany's Stasi State, the infiltration of the FBI into U.S. groups considered dangerous to the status quo, even what Pinochet did in Chile in the way of wiping out any voices espousing messages contrary to his own... are lost on THEM.

I find it necessary to take issue with any writer who makes blanket assumptions about the whole of the citizenry as if all persons go along with the new "expose yourself now!" movement.

Some of us don't. And WE should be counted, too.

Not everyone is acting in complicity with the new Police State. That dissent is worthy of being noted. Too often what's true of the mean drowns out the brave acts of those at the fringes.


Do you think you've written anything I don't know? You don't understand my post in the least.


Electronic fascism is less overt than jackboots stomping down the boulevard. Our 'know everything about you' surveillance state is ever in the background looming over us but camouflaged behind the mundane (you agree to the terms of use by our puppy lover's site by continuing...etc.), the necessary (to get news updates you must ...etc) and the fun (join today by filling in the required fields and press 'Okay'...etc).

Not by fear but by pleasure we lost ourselves and condemned future generations who will not be given the choice.

In America it seems so all pervasive but in Europe they still have their privacy online. Meanwhile they have the same things we do online. So how come we gave it all away?


You conflate technological applications of surveillance, abuses of civil liberties certainly, with violence and suppression. Siouxrose1 is not only correct, she is overwhelmingly correct. Despite this country's ability to spy on its residents via technologies, technologies that are being improved and used increasingly world wide, nevertheless this society possesses a degree of civil liberty protection virtually unmatched anywhere else in the world. And most certainly compared to the East Germany Stasi or Pinochet's Chile to give two examples that Siouxrose1 used. Government violations, past and present, always egregious, often in the extreme, are resisted due to the active participation of those, past and present, that created the foundation to resist them. But to compare this country, especially if one is white, to what is experienced in totalitarian societies is vulgar.

No population wants to live under totalitarianism. And making predictions about human affairs in general is the height of complexity. Germany in the early part of the 20th century was a shining star of western civilization. But the struggle for decency, justice, basic human needs and a quality of life means having to participate. Of that there is no complexity. If there's any other way to do so it's certainly being kept a secret. For instance, protection against charges of sedition is something the US is almost alone in the world....but it only came about in the second half of the 20th century. The ratio of the good out weighing the bad is not automatic. And that's what Siouxrose1 was referring when she said...” I would say that kids today have NO IDEA what a genuine surveillance state looks and feels like.” Feels like. Feels like. We have the capacity to battle back. No guarantees to be sure. But the population is not hog-tied, not helpless. Big, big difference. That the kids are not aware of this difference is a reflection of our 'free press', a press that serves as the mouth piece of the status quo. And any teacher who expresses this risks their career.

This ability to fight back is reflected in the genuine popularity of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK Labour Party. Corbyn and Sanders are lighting the match to what is just below the surface waiting to be lit. Their present and future success will be due to real participation leading to a real movement and not by an artificially inflated election atmosphere. It would take a lot more if this were a totalitarian state. It's bad enough as it is.


Like I said, you missed my point. I was talking about what a GENERATION experiences in order to have a comparison to make.

Obviously the spy state is far more sophisticated today given the technology, but kids who didn't live in something LIKE the Stasi have no understanding for how a Big Brother style fascist operation can and will use the data it currently expresses... or, according to the author, exposes.

Some of us do. I am one of those.

And another point being made is that the generation that has memory from their parents and grandparents is dying out.

Many of us are not 20-something anxious to flash our boobs on facebook.


Thank you. It's refreshing to (at least sometimes in this forum) be understood.

Thank you also for taking the time to lay out things that bypass Herd's frame of sentience.


What comes to mind is the trope of 'culture' and it coming to mean having something called 'pride', preconceived by marketing ploys whether for coercing product buying or a calendar of 'holidays', scorning and/or ignoring its inclusive root of integrity known as dignity; once a shared meaning of celebrating that which is sacred.

In this culture (think something like yeast or yogurt, fed or starved) 'vacation' (vacating the stresses of the "culture" one strives to 'be a part of' - really pause for a moment with that). Culture is a 'modern' (mode/manufactured mode) trope, composed of boundaries, strictures, etc. extremely dependent on manufacturing false perceptions of scarcity and values for which billions are spent to float the smoke and mirrors that all too often hide the actual abrogations of ethics in 'supply chains'. But we're catching on.
Stranger still to consider that if one actually tracks any conceptual linguistic continuity one sees that the "culture" makes vacating daily life (vacation) the sought after 'holi/sacred' reward for underpaid and vanishing of the old social participation in production of the common social well being. And that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of 'tourism'.

The false structures of the 'taking' model, where the lure is a constantly coerced nose-to-the-grindstone scramble for security of identity, in all its meanings and modes, are perversions that are unsustainable in a living system. But we're catching on.

Ultimately real culture is how people live, what we will do with, without and for others and what can be enjoyed together, not consumptive profligacy, one-ups-manship competitions of takings and possessions of scarce goods du jour.etc.

When I look at life this way - I become irrepressibly optimistic about the sheer potential represented by the evolution implicit in breaking through the turgid mirror world. Humanity blossoming into full natural potential and moving in the fluid equilibrium all of us know deep down inside. In uncounted places, with countless people all over the world, this IS happening.


The author makes a conclusion based on what's happening today. She sounds to me like she's saying, "It ain't so bad, look at all the fun we're having with our technology."
What I didn't hear her say is anything about what happened to Aunt Judy when cyber thieves broke into her on-line medical records database, stole her personal information, opened 6 credit card accounts, bought a new car, then drained her on-line checking account which resulted in the check for her mortgage payment bouncing.
Some people have lots of fun inventing on-line personas and acting out little fantasies they come up with. And that's okay. But just because we have fun today and don't experience any repercussions, doesn't mean that things will necessarily remain the same.
In the USA I'm not aware of any massive abuses state, local, and federal governments have committed against Residents living in their jurisdictions that are based solely in electronic eavesdropping. There were far more abuses being conducted by the federal government back in the 1960's and 1970's. Just ask Judy Bari - well I guess you can't ask her since she passed away quite a few years ago, thanks in part to injuries she suffered when the bomb planted in her car by unidentified assailants exploded.
The thing is, we in this country do not know what it's like to live in an actual police state where individuals are taken from their homes in the middle of the night and simply disappear. We don't know what it's like to have our cousin arrested and shipped off to a gulag for 20 years because a neighbor dropped a dime one afternoon and lied about hearing our cousin discuss how they planned to assassinate the chief of police, and then collected a $2,500 reward for alerting the authorities to a threat of terrorism.
The Latin American death squads trained at Henry Kissinger's School of the Americas proved to be very effective at terrorizing their fellow citizens once they completed the training and returned home. It's been a long time since I read the accounts of those who lived through the East German and Soviet police states. Can't think of any off hand, but there are records that tell the tale, and those who lived the experience didn't enjoy it very much.
What we do have is a record of the federal government paying AT&T to let them tap into their cellular network in San Francisco and conduct illegal surveillance. We have records showing that US intelligence agencies operate intercept stations in order to spy on the heads of state of enemies and allies alike. We have the situation where a federal contractor named Snowden walked off the job with a whole bunch of electronic documents detailing the illegal surveillance being conducted against American citizens in the USA, and plans for expanding the illegal programs already in place. We have a Patriot Act that suspends the authority of the U.S. Constitution, grants prohibited authority to the Executive Branch of the federal government, and curtails the protected rights of U.S. Citizens. We know the NSA has constructed a mammoth structure in Utah to house a data collection center that serves no useful purpose other than the long term storage of information pertaining to every individual member of our domestic population.
The punch card data collection system provided by America's IBM corporation to the Third Reich enabled that regime to identify, track, transport and slaughter millions of civilians deemed to be undesirable who were living under their control. Such atrocities haven't happened here - yet. The same could be said of Cambodia before the Pol Pot regime came to power.


Author sez: "The second crux (of Harcourt's argument) is his observation that government and commercial surveillance infrastructures have wholly merged."

An astute observation. Indeed, there are few U.S. government and commercial infrastructures that have not wholly merged. Mussolini had an 'F' word for that sort of thing.


My, that's a bit of blanket statement, isn't it? You can speak for them all individually, can you? Such massive hypocrisy for someone always banging on about this 'we' meme. You even do so in this post after having just used the same meme yourself. Next time name them individually as you seem to expect everyone else to do instead of using a generalised shorthand. Should only take you a couple of years to finish your post. I'm sure you have the time.