<div>his seems to be a rather fast-growing trend in western civilization. At first I had no problem with it and even felt satisfaction from it. The idea that a person could be a racist in public, be recorded either knowingly or not, and then have their personal life affected by the fallout is most gratifying.</div><div>
</div><div>Now I’m beginning to worry about the potential societal effects of such behavior. It is now the preferred method of offensive and defensive actions in a social interaction, ultimately resulting in all participants having their phone out, pointed at each other like a new-age Mexican stand-off.</div><div>
</div><div>This is embedding a “tattle-tale” mentality in the population and creating a separate penal structure in the form of social media that is undermining the system of justice we have in democratic countries and undermining individual liberty at a more fundamental level. When it comes to catching racists in the act, I deem it worthy. I say that even though I acknowledge that most videos come without context, often creating an almost caricature-like impression of an individual. Virally shaming a racist is a fear-oriented method to wipe-out public racism via the creation of an atmosphere of fear with regards to expressing your bigotry.</div><div>
</div><div>However what happens when the next war comes around and, as it was in 2003, those against war become targeted as un-american. Imagine two people in the subway arguing over the new war, one is for and one is against. A third person pulls out his cell-phone and catches the anti-war individual at the peak of his anger. This video goes viral and the individual is publicly shamed for “being against the troops.”</div><div>It is not too far-fetched to imagine the creation of an atmosphere of fear in which one is too scared to be recorded by his neighbor to express his views with regards to the war. Carry that forward a generation and it’s not too hard to imagine a world where anything that is outside of consensus is a target for viral shaming, even political views.</div><div>
</div><div>Oppression does not only come from the top-down, though that is historically how it often comes. In this new era of neighbor recording neighbor, be wary of horizontal oppression perhaps being guided from above.</div><div>Next time you catch someone acting belligerent, ask yourself if this is something that you can solve locally and anonymously. Fight the urge to whip out your phone and being a viral crusader because while you may get some personal satisfaction from publicly shaming this individual now, you may be cultivating a form of oppression that has no historical precedent.</div><div>
</div><div>With regards to government use of such a widespread social habit. It is not uncommon for oppressive regimes to cultivate snitching behavior in its populations, however in the past this was done deliberately, such as a neighbor ratting out his neighbor to government officials.</div><div>
</div><div>This new form of snitching allows the government to be distant and uninvolved while reaping the same rewards. Remember, we are already being monitored, our lives and thoughts pieced together using meta-data. They know who we are and what we think by aggregate analysis of our social media identities. Combine this with a mainstream media that knows how to shape national discourse and collective consciousness via it’s false urgency and you have a power elite that not only tells you what to believe, but knows if you’re buying into it and if you’re not, knows the dissenting views you do have. It is merely missing the ability to punish us for those dissenting views, this “snitching via video” habit is a perfect way for dissenting views to be punished without a government agent.</div>
This is interesting. I think it’s just as likely that our personal lives being so exposed will clue people into the diversity of perspective and make it harder to organize everyone into a single prejudice/government agenda. But yea scary to think where it can go. There are so many people standing up for issues though so I still believe in people.
This is what was predicted in all those dystopian novels, like 1984.
It’s also kind of what happened in East Germany during the communist era, with around 10% of citizens being professional snitches.
This is also how the medieval witch hunts worked, normal people snitching each other out.
See the problem with this concern is that all that is presented as a solution is a futile half-measure.
When you subscribe to the idea that some ideas are wrong and should be governed, you have already succumbed to the Stasi/beehive mentality.
I don’t endorse racism, I don’t like racism, it’s nasty stuff. But I don’t criticise racists for their beliefs.
I don’t agree with christians or homosexuals, they don’t fly with my personal values, but I would never oppose theirs either.
People have a right to their own minds, to think freely and hold whatever values they so wish.
They have the right to express their minds, in private or in public, without civil consequences.
That’s part of living in a democracy, or in any real constitutional country.
It’s part of civilisation.
When you agree with those who say some opinions and values are wrong and should be suppressed, you have ALREADY SUBMITTED TO THE THOUGHT POLICE.
We’re now, in many ways, living in public, and there are definitely consequences. In some ways I agree it can be a good thing, such as when people capture video of police brutalizing the citizenry. However, the Internet hive-mind takes things to extremes and frequently pulls some Salem-Witch-Trial-level demonization/shaming. Highly recommend this article to think more about this phenomenon: