Culture Critique
Culture Critique

Self-Tracking

The problem with a world in which everyone can film, photograph, or record you at any time with a handheld device, is that we begin to change our behavior, to censor ourselves, to watch what we say, like politicians. With the advent of facial recognition software, life becomes even more claustrophobic. Whereas before when we might have inadvertently been caught in the background of someone’s photo, we would remain anonymous; now as people post everything to the social network, our faces can be recognized and we can be automatically tagged and our location and activities documented without our consent. And while some may say, who cares, the fact remains that we have a right to privacy and anonymity, to go somewhere and get away from it all (which used to mean get away from the stress of our busy schedules, but increasingly means getting away from technology and surveillance). Already people self-track by enabling location services on their phone, by tagging their pictures, which are linked to these fixed locations, and by putting internet-enabled security cameras in their home. As a result there is nowhere we can go without someone knowing about it.

 

Clearly, we are living in a time where our privacy is being eroded and is threatened with disappearing altogether. The IT industry promotes and profits from the elimination of our privacy as it gathers our personal information, in order to sell it, or sell us more stuff, while the government can at any time request our information and communication from companies such as Google or Facebook, while it also monitors us covertly. From where we are today, it is a short step to the total surveillance society of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four where our every action and communication is monitored at home and in public to ensure that we don’t challenge the status quo and its increasing injustice and inequality.

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