By Brandi Hutcheson
“Big Brother is Watching You.“ Imagine living in a society like the one George Orwell depicts in his novel, 1984. In the novel, the government controls everything the people do: the time they wake up, the time they go to work, even the time they exercise. They are watched constantly through telescreens that are placed everywhere, even in their own homes. They constantly are reminded that their leader, Big Brother, is watching them and any sign of unorthodoxy will be penalized. Neighbors, family and coworkers are brainwashed to turn each other over to the government. Things like trust, family values and even things such as sex and dating are nonexistent.
Surely the government can’t get that far, but with the technology we have today, we could be right on track to a Big Brother society. We already have televisions with facial recognition and GPS devices in our smartphones. There are cameras on every street corner and on the front of many of our computers.
The Internet is a big piece of the puzzle. While it has benefited us as consumers with easy access to goods and particular interests and provided businesses with the ability to better connect with their customers, the Internet gives the government and corporations an upper hand when it comes to our privacy. Everything we like on Facebook, everything we Tweet and everything we say or buy is watched.
Take Facebook, for example. With everything someone likes, there comes an ad that correlates with that interest. It’s the same with other websites, such as Amazon or IMDB (Internet Movie Database). If someone clicks on something, seemingly of his or her particular interest, there always is another ad that shows up correlating with that particular interest. If corporations can do that legally, it’s a wonder what else they could be watching.
The Huffington Post recently reported New York City’s Board of Health approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on larger sugar-sweetened drinks. Under the plan, restaurants, fast food, delis, movie theaters, and sports stadiums will not be allowed to serve sugar-sweetened drinks over 16 ounces.
First of all, we should be able to control what goes into our own bodies, good and bad. Sure, obesity is a big problem in the United States, but that’s just like banning something like television shows or movies because they cause teenage pregnancy to rise. Soda is a minute factor in the obesity problem. It’s just like Rick Perry and his mandatory HPV vaccinations for sixth grade girls in 2006; it’s something we should have the right to choose to do. It’s the right to our own bodies.
As the government slowly chips away at small privacies and liberties, they also will find it convenient to chip away at the bigger ones.
This may sound extreme and in some ways unnerving, but it’s a slippery slope and it’s necessary to be conscious, not enough to bury oneself in the cave of a mountain in Kentucky with a shotgun and foot-long beard, but just enough to be able to safely think of the worst possible circumstance and the best possible circumstance.
The worst possible circumstance is that with every decision the government makes, officials could feel the powerful need to make a bigger decision that could control our lives or our freedoms even more.
The slippery slope is a dangerous one, because with the more power a person or group obtains, they will hunger and thirst to obtain more. The small but powerful decisions, such as being able to watch and stalk our interests and decisions on the Internet or controlling what we decide to put in our bodies, could turn into big, powerful decisions such as what we do and how we do things and when we do them. The slippery slope could lead to a society where Big Brother really is watching you.