America and the Culture of Surveillance

After writing my post yesterday, I got to thinking about how unremarkable the idea at the heart of Gossip Girl really is these days. Why we aren’t shocked or surprised by the concept, why we say it couldn’t happen (or even why it shouldn’t happen), or more importantly, why we don’t look away.

We live in a world where we are routinely privy to the private and intimate conversations of those around us, particularly the cyborgs roaming the grocery stores and airports with their unnerving Bluetooth earpieces. We are encouraged to join social networking websites and share detailed and organized information about ourselves, our relationships, our friends, our jobs. We build websites that promote our writing, as we must, but they reveal who we are in ways that are accessible by everyone with an internet connection 24 hours a day.

We are a paparazzi culture where knowing a celebrity’s underwear size and preference seems like data we can justify pursuing. We know the sex lives of our presidents now. We can’t always prove it, but we’re pretty sure who’s gay, who’s stealing scarves from Sak’s and exactly how Angelina wrestled Brad away from Jen. More than that, we know what Angelina was thinking and feeling when she did it.

Although I engage and participate in the boundaryless culture, I don’t necessarily support it. I am a private person at heart–although you read this blog, consider how much you know of my aspirations, my dreams, my fears–even my boyfriend–as opposed to what TV shows I watch and which political movements I support. Because I know you’re watching me. And listening. And don’t ever think for a moment that you’re surveilling my thoughts. I’m handing them to you, carefully selected, pre-approved.

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