11.6.13

SPONTANEOUS SURVEILLANCE.

A government capable of tracking all internet and telephone communications is a government capable of  all sorts of abuses.  It's also a bureaucracy, suggesting there will be some sort of pattern to its abuses.

Private citizens and social networks are not subject to those institutional constraints.  "I surmise the days of 'Live and let live' and 'Mind your own business' are over."

Perhaps so.  Those are bourgeois conventions.  So nineteenth century.  And the further constraint, that people be discreet about what they share in public, is also gone, to the particular annoyance of train passengers.  (Read the "Sound Off" section of any Metra newsletter and educate yourself.)
A husband allegedly bragging about cheating on his wife has been publicly shamed on Facebook, after a train passenger overheard his conversation.

The picture of the man, who had been traveling on a train from Philadelphia with friends, has since been shared more than 183,000 times since a Pennsylvania mother posted in on Wednesday.

'If this is your husband, I have endured a 2 hour train ride from Philadelphia listening to this loser and his friends brag about their multiple affairs and how their wives are too stupid to catch on. Oh please repost...' Steph Strayer wrote on Wednesday.
The good news, though, is that a rediscovery of bourgeois manners in public might be an evolutionarily stable strategy.
Twitter and Facebook are developing informal mores and codes of conduct, just like trains and other public places in the real world. Whether we like these codes is another question: They can be as harsh and as unjust as anything humans develop to police each other. But increasingly, they’re codes we’ll have to reckon with.
We'll know that social progress is taking place when words like "harsh and unjust" give way to "likely to reduce conflict".

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