As a sociologist I’ve always been interested in surveillance. Jeremy Bentham, Foucault, Orwell. Like it or not surveillance is an aspect of the industrial and post-industrial world. It’s been talked about for centuries and dystopian authors like Orwell, sociologists like Foucault, and others have worried about the future directions and the implications of total surveillance and control. Well, almost 30 years after 1984 is the Ministry of Truth finally here and right under our noses? Don’t be shy. Show us your face and tell us “what’s on your mind” today.
In 1948 George Orwell wrote the novel 1984, a novel about a dystopian future society where total control of thought and action was the name of the game. A docile worker population, a subdued under class, and constant and uninterrupted war meant total submission to The System. The whole thing hinged on thought control and the elimination of thought crime. According to George there were a number of ways thoughts could be controlled, from the ongoing revision of history and reality to the surveillance of the population. The goal was to use “psychology [and] surveillance to find and eliminate members of society who are capable of the mere thought of challenging ruling authority.” (ref)
So, “what’s on your mind?”
Share with us.
What are you thinking today?
Submit to observation!
Don’t want to?
Find that a little creepy, maybe even a little scary?
The trick in surveillance and observation, the secret of the Panopticon is, as Jeremy Bentham pointed out, to hide the surveillance from the prisoners (ref). If you don’t know you’re being watched then, as the saying goes, what’s gonna hurt you.
So, “what’s on your mind today?”
Share with us.
It’s not that we’re observing you, it’s that you are sharing.
Expose yourself to the world and never mind that Google bought Doubleclick and now everything you do online becomes a permanent record of your life. And never mind the fact that by “using our software” you consent to the transfer of your data to the U.S. of A. and the unlimited “processing” of said data by nobody in particular. Never mind the fact that is is possible to link every click you make with every online profile you build.
Never mind that every time you login your data is collected, collated, connected, and your path through this life dutifully logged and archived.
Accept our cookies and relax!
No no, don’t turn around.
Don’t look away.
It’s just a social network after all, there’s no such thing as global surveillance and besides, you have nothing to hide, right?
So tell us, “what’s on your mind.”
Share with us your likes and dislikes.
Let us follow you around a bit.
If you listen to subsersive rock and roll, we’d like to know.
If you liked that critical social documentary you saw on Netflix, by all means tell us.
Saccharine and non-threatening entertainment keeps you docile, that’s good!
That’s what we like to see.
So don’t be afraid.
We’re only here to help and we can’t do that unless you tell us, “what’s on your mind today?”
About the Author: I'm a sociologist at Athabasca University where I coordinate,amongst other things, the introductory sociology courses (Sociology I and Sociology II). FYI I did my dissertation in the political economy of scholarly communication (you can read it if you want). It's not that bad. My current interests lie in the area of scholarly communication and pedagogy, the sociology of spirituality and religion, consciousness research, entheogens, inequality and stratification, and the revolutionary potential of authentic spirituality. The Socjourn is my pet project. It started as the Electronic Journal of Sociology but after watching our social elites systematically dismantle the potential of eJournals to alter the politics and economies of scholarly communication, I decided I'd try something a little different. That something is The Socjourn, a initiative that bends the rules of scholarly communication and pedagogy by disregarding academic ego and smashing down the walls that divide our little Ivory Tower world from the rest of humanity. If you are a sociologist or a sociology student and you have a burning desire to engage in a little institutional demolition by perhaps writing for the Socjourn, contact me. If you are a graduate student and you have some ideas that you think I might find interesting, contact me. I supervise graduate students through Athabasca Universities MAIS program.