The new age of surveillance and voyeurism

Fes- MWN

“Big brother” and “voyeurism” are terms that are associated with the acts of surveillance and controlling. These words have been known from an early age, and especially from the last century when George Orwell wrote about big brother and how one person was influencing the rest of society.

The history of surveillance, or watching others in order to control them, took off from two very different key points. The first point, known as the starting step, occurred through George Orwell’s description of a big brother who was reflecting the power of the political category. Moreover, big brother was the eye of the government, which made him an undesirable person in his society.

More or less, for him and for his government, the only thing that was important is that they knew everything about the society, such as where people lived and what they did in their daily lives. The people in this society had no freedom. In addition, freedom was the only notion that society was aware of because of its unattainability. This idea of unattainable freedom contrasts new methods of surveillance in the next century.

As Moroccans we should not deny that big brother also existed in our country through the colonial and post-colonial periods. The colonizer had many people working for them to watch people in the city. This habit was inherited by the national state apparatus after independence. For instance, the authorities were using “BARGAGA” in order to watch certain individuals, especially the rich people in that period who were friends with the colonizer.

We have to admit that the idea of big brother still exists in Morocco. For example, the people who are working in the traditional bath, or the man who is working in a small market in our neighborhood know everything that happens in that area because he is watching all the movement of the neighbors during the whole day.  Also, there is surveillance between neighbors. For example, if there is an old woman living in a neighborhood, her sole responsibility and passion is to know every detail of what’s happening around her. I noticed that voyeurism is soaring in our society and in the others as well. Some people become addicted to it. For example, some people enjoy watching others engage in personal activities. Through these examples, we can see how there are many different reasons why people observe each other.

The second step of the surveillance surge relates to the development of new technology like social networks such as Facebook, Twitter , Myspace……etc . Through this new wave of technology, surveillance has become easier around the globe since everyone knows everything about you.

The new technologies allow different companies to sell their products. For instance, a company can find out what you like to buy or do from the cookies that are stored in your computer, because it makes it easier for them to provide you with services and data. Your IP can also provide the companies with local goods, deals, and products from the area where you are located.

Returning to the case of social networks, Facebook embodies the realest example of this debate. As Facebook users we believe that privacy exists while using the network, but we are wrong because everyone can access your personal data and knows everything about your personal life. Through the new technique of GPS systems, your Facebook friends are able to know where you are at any given moment. The difference is that Facebook users are participating in this surveillance voluntarily, without knowing what they are agreeing to. This is the disparity between the new age and the age of big brother. In the new age we know that our freedom is being taken and we contribute in this phenomenon, which is in complete contrast to the age of the big brother.

Throughout all these important elements and examples, it is clear that being controlled can affect your life by limiting your freedom and creating some moral and psychological problems, like paranoia. This condition makes people feel afraid that everyone around them is out to get them and take advantage of their situation. The greater the power of surveillance, the greater the chance for individual and societal paranoia—whether the surveillance is voluntary or not.

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