Big Brother, is he watching you?
Caluya states that with “…rapid technological developments, particularly the rise of computerised databases, require us to rethink the panoptic metaphor” (2000, p. 607).
Have you ever felt like you are being watched? Whether in a public place, such as a shopping centre? Maybe on public transport, or even at work? As a growing society, individuals are being surveilled more than ever. With digital advances such as cameras being a norm within public spaces, we can only feel safe while being watched, right?
Well, sometimes surveillance is just a bit over the top. Such as businesses promoting signed surveillance in use or stating that surveillance is in the area, maybe even big, nasty cameras staring down on you while you may be trying to do your humble daily shopping.
So is surveillance watching your every move?
So what is surveillance, and why is it used? Chandler and Munday, describe surveillance as, “…social technologies of power which include any covert and/or overt techniques and tools used by governments and other organisations to identify, track, and monitor other people through direct or mediated observation” (2011, p. 414).
This definition does sound a bit daunting, after all who would want to be observed without knowing? *Creepy, right?* Yet, there are some pros and cons regarding to surveillance in society. Surveillance within society, and within a work environment is viewed as a positive action, as the safety of its workers, and customers can be monitored and viewed. In another definition, surveillance society is described as “…a society which routinely monitors the lives of its citizens for purposes of administration and control” (Chandler & Munday 2011, p. 414). This definition better suits surveillance within a workforce, as safety is not only controlled – theft could also be monitored through surveillance helping companies resolve issues in the workforce.
Recently, during my time at work, I had decided to count the cameras which I could visibly see from my department. Over 9 cameras were counted, with different shapes, colours and different sized cameras on display in the small area. And how do all these cameras make me feel at work? Honestly, the cameras make me feel safe – at times.
As the cameras may deter certain individuals from doing negative things in a workplace; as an employee at work, how can the cameras possible make me feel “safe” when we cannot hide behind the camera in times of desperate need?
So I decided to ask my fellow workers, how they felt about the many cameras pointing down at them while we work. Out of the 6 fellow employees asked, 5 said the cameras were a great device to implement control, and safety within the workforce. 1 out of the 6 however, thought that the somewhat, overdose of cameras were unnecessary and something to worry about. This brings about different questions such as, are we so used to surveillance now that we no longer have an issue with it? Or is this something we should be concerned about?
Surveillance is everywhere – we cannot escape it. Try and be wary of your surrounds, whether at work, or in any environment where surveillance is identified. You may have your own opinion in regards to surveillance, and while you may not be able to contend your opinion towards your work cameras, you can throughout your daily life!
…maybe you could surveil the surveillance #foodforthought
surveillance studies’, Social Identities, vol. 16, no. 5, September, pp. 621-633.
Chandler, D., & Munday, R 2011, ‘Dictionary of Media and Communication’, First ed., Oxford University Press.
Tweets from @emma___miller used respectively