” I always feel like somebody’s watching me” Rockwell
Ever get that creepy feeling when you’re out and about that you’re being watched. You take a careful look around but see no one, still, you can’t shake the feeling that someone or something is watching you. Chances are, you may right. Indeed, someone may be watching.
As more and more cities across the nation install complex surveillance systems that employ a network of cameras to monitor city streets and make them safer for you and me, there’s a very good chance you’re every move is being monitored back at police central, where one or more officers are patrolling the city via camera. No more squad car for these watchful observers, just good vision, and a keen eye. They do their patrolling in a surveillance room where video monitors cover the walls. In some instances, the officers can not only see you, but they can also speak to you as well, like the voice of God in the night!
As is always the case there are those who support this technological approach to policing and there are those who believe it has gone too far and infringes on our right to privacy. We’ve all seen nightly news stories where the police pull video from store fronts, parking lots, banks, traffic cams, etc, near the scene of a crime and are able to piece together a scenerio of what occurred or get a photo of suspects or their vehicle. There’s no doubt that cameras are an asset in fighting crime.
But when is enough enough? The City of Redlands has been in the news lately because of their widespread use of cameras throughout the city and also a surveillance plane eye in the sky. It has been such a successful program that the Redlands School District will soon be installing cameras at many of their school sites. Again, there are those who are for and those against. I have mixed feelings. I can see having cameras in high-crime areas or areas susceptible to criminal activity, even school sites where tagging and vandalism occurs, is an acceptable use of surveillance, but I don’t see the need for a camera on every corner, every storefront, or every neighborhood. What next? our homes, you know to quell domestic violence or disturbances? How can we be assured it won’t go that far?
In 1949 writer George Orwell gave us a rather bleak view of the future in his science fiction novel “1984.” In it, he envisioned a society in 1984 as high-tech, computerized, dehumanized and constantly under the surveillance of big government or as he tells it under the ever watchful eye of “Big Brother.” Well, it may be twenty-seven years late, but it looks like his vision has finally arrived, at least part of it anyway. In Orwell’s novel, your public life is monitored by thousands of cameras posted throughout the city, while your private life is monitored by your “Telescreen” a large flat screen teleceiver that broadcasts programs as well as transmits video images. You never know when Big Brother is watching.
In addition, we have surely become the hi-tech society he foresaw. The evidence is everywhere, one inch thin HDTV, with screen sizes up to 152 inches wide, smartphones, laptop computers, wi-fi and a host of wireless devices and services. We are a connected society, user-friendliness has become a way of life for most of us.
Has Orwell’s 1984 become a reality? It’s obvious that many Orwellian elements are in play right now. There are more things he writes about that are damn close to being a reality. His concept of perpetual war, a war with no clear ending conditions or a cold war sounds familiar. Are psychological surveillance, mind control, thought crimes and the thought police, in our near future as well? I guess we’ll have to wait and see what our future holds. Who knows the rest of 1984 may be just around the corner. So the next time you’re out and about, better be careful and play by the rules. Big Brother may have his eye on you…
Just a thought