Land of the Free?

“You are being watched. The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day,” is the intro of the series Person of Interest. This secret system intercepts every single transaction, movement, or progress of Americans. Michel Foucault describes the perfect surveillance mechanism through the Panopticon, which was used during the Plague. This same idea was featured in modern times through surveillance cameras, location finders, cell phone calls and messages being recorded, transactions stored, and even social media updates. American government has kept this idea of Panopticon to locate and document citizens at all times. Government has invaded the privacy and freedom of Americans across the nation.

The picture above depicts the concept of Panopticon through mockery. The ‘O’ in Panopticon is illustrated to replicate ABC. ABC controls a network of technology that citizens use on a daily basis. Through their monopoly power, Americans have been hypnotized to believe the norm is being fed lies and under constant supervision. Although there has been terroristic threats throughout the nation, government has made it their duty to mark every American as guilty until proven otherwise. Through their theory, they have turned a free nation into a prison. The picture also marks humans as worms as if we are belittled to overpopulated maggots that only eat and desecrate. This depicts how government and monopolies view us. According to them, we are insignificant and gullible to believing the lies portrayed in media. The televisions only emphasize the idea that Americans are fed lies through services like ABC. I believe that behind networks like ABC are more powerful people who closely work with government officials. By that, I mean the companies will present the material that needs to be distributed to the citizens thus conducting the brainwashing effect.

The Panopticon is constructed in this idea that the prisoners cannot see each other nor the guard in the tower; however, the guard could be watching them at any time. In modern times, prisoners are citizens and guards are government officials. From what I have interpreted from Foucault’s claims is that the government believes a “prisoner should be constantly observed by an inspector,” (201). Therefore, Americans cannot go out of the country without documentation and cannot leave the state without needing to have a check point – whether it’s a gas station or TSA. The location of a human is always documented because even if there aren’t those check points, there are still cameras and cell phone frequencies that give away a hiding place.

That makes me think: why is it so hard for police to locate a criminal if they can easily access their location through the multitude of technology? Is it a scam? How is the government using the information they have obtained? The scam could be this idea that Americans are not free. Although the nation is tamed, in a sense, the government ensures this through surveillance. The government could also act as a paranoid authority waiting to capture a perpetrator. The idea of their surveillance is for “those who take pleasure in spying and punishing,” (202). Government directly falls under that category. The technology they use is intended to protect the good of the human race. Therefore, they must take pride in spying and punishing. The government is led on nothing but “the curiosity of the indiscreet,” (202). They feel as if it is valuable to document all acquisitions to accustom to their idea of freedom.

Presumably, through the rise of technology, the idea of free has been altered. No longer are our amendments upheld. The Fourth Amendment states unreasonable searches and seizures are only enacted with warrant or probable cause. This amendment is not even an important asset when they is no privacy. There will always be a probable cause since there is significant evidence through surveillance technology. Although this does stop crimes, it also instils fear in all citizens making the safety factor decrease – even though the primary idea could have been to ensure safety. The new technology also creates problems with innocent citizens who are accused based on false pretenses in some cases. For example, if a citizen decides to buy products that could be marked red for security purposes, the government has reason for a search or seizure even if it was an innocent purchase.

Therefore fellow readers, are we free? Has government adapted the idea of Panopticon? You decide. The only rational reasoning for government’s need to invade privacy is for the “knowledge [that] follows the advances of power,” (204). If the government holds power over us, they hold the world. Anything they need, we are at their feet. There is a line that needs to be drawn. How long will it take until the nation finds itself entangled in their own lives?

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6 comments

  1. courtcox32 · October 29, 2015

    When you think about it, it’s very creepy how much the government knows about you. Sure we tell them certain things through the census and all the other paperwork we have to fill out but they could know the conversations we’ve had with our friends on the phone or some other personal thing about us. In my opinion, they can watch me all they want, they’ll just get bored because my life isn’t anything extraordinary and I’m not a threat to the nation. I also find it really hard to believe that there are enough people behind the scenes that can watch the rest of us. We have to outnumber them by a lot if you think about it.

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  2. gtrqnf · October 29, 2015

    This was very well written, I really liked your analysis on how our level of freedom has changed. What comes to mind to me personally is the Patriot Act. Some of our very own citizens have come to this idea that its okay for themselves and their neighbors to be spied upon for no real reason other than the notion that it could “maybe” stop a terrorist attack. The rise of technology has caused mass surveillance to be much more easier for governments to do, I find this worrisome. Why should I be worried about the possibility of being monitored if I’ve done nothing wrong? I personally believe that this is wrong and needs to be stopped before it further escalates.

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  3. chrisimpson · October 29, 2015

    Couldn’t the ‘O’ represent the “all seeing eye” also? I feel like it could signify ABC, but the all seeing eye was the first thing that popped into my head when I initially saw it.

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  4. jayktilly · October 29, 2015

    I like how there’s a whole conspiracy theory vibe going on and it just makes me think more as I base my ideas off of yours. What if top news corporations really do talk with the government about what to show the population or what if the government is playing dumb and they really can track our every move? Technology is advanced enough where this can really happen too.

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  5. Ethyn Reasoner · October 30, 2015

    It looks like the panopticon (satellite-looking thing) is based on the CBS logo, which is another TV network that has local affiliates throughout the United States. I am very concerned about how much the national media hides from us, and I also wonder how much of that is due to government influence, bribery, etc. I also wonder about how much the federal government knows about our personal lives. We can ask for access to many, if not all, of our government files. We can go through that information ourselves. The process of acquiring that information is very time-consuming, though, so most people are not willing to do it.

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  6. livymelberg · October 31, 2015

    I do not think we are free. We are being watched constantly, by other people and cameras. I think it is interesting that we all have really good cameras in our pockets (cellphones) but the security cameras still produce horrible images. I am not super bothered by the fact I am being monitored all the time because I never do anything illegal. Just credit card statements provide a lot of information about me.

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