We willingly offer up our personal information to social media and other corporate-based websites which is gathered as we move from one targeted web site to the next across multiple screens and digital apparatuses. This collecting of information might be most evident in the surveillance cameras that inhabit every public space from the streets, commercial establishments, workplaces and schools as well as in the myriad scanners placed at the entry points of airports, stores, sporting events and the like.
Yet the most important transgression may not only be happening through the unwarranted watching, listening and collecting of information but also in a culture that normalizes surveillance by upping the pleasure quotient (mimicked by the crocheted cameras) and enticements for consumers who use the new digital technologies and social networks to simulate false notions of community and to socialize young people into a culture of security and commodification in which their identities, values and desires are inextricably tied to a culture of private addictions, self-help and commodification.
Surveillance is now global, reaching beyond borders that no longer provide an obstacle to collecting information and spying on individuals, governments and corporations. The details of our daily lives are not only on full display but are being monitored, collected and stored in databanks waiting to be used for commercial, security or political purposes. At the same time, the right to privacy is eagerly given up by millions of people for the wonders of social networking or the varied seductions inspired by consumer fantasies.
Surveillance is not simply pervasive, it has become normalized. Orwell could not have imagined either the intrusive capabilities of the the new high-powered digital technologies of surveillance and display, nor could he have envisioned the growing web of political, cultural and economic partnerships between modes of government and corporate sovereignty capable of collecting almost every form of communication in which human beings engage. What is new in the post-Orwellian world is not just the emergence of new and powerful technologies used by governments and corporations to spy on people and assess personal information as a way to either attract ready-made customers or to sell information to advertising agencies, but the emergence of a widespread culture of surveillance.
The point of no return in the emergence of the corporate-state surveillance apparatus is not strictly confined to the task of archiving immense pools of data collection to be used in a number of illegal ways. It is in creating a culture in which surveillance becomes trivialized, celebrated, and legitimated as reasonable and unquestioned behavior.