Consumerism and Data Gluttony

March 17, 2017

 

I was born in 1984 and when I was 11 years old I read George Orwell's 1984 and I felt the ever watching eye of surveillance. Camera Surveillance was around and I was aware even then that I was being watched in stores and on public transport. That was in 1995, the world wide web had only just started to get really popular. It was still yet to explode in the following years. Since then Orwell's prophecy has become more and more our reality.

 

World Wide Web Timeline

 

In contrast to the world I was living in when I read Orwell's novel, the world he was living in when he published it was quite different. There were no surveillance cameras in use in 1949, when 1984 was published, but by 1961 cameras were installed in the London Transport Train Station. The use of video surveillance spread and so has worldwide security in general.

 

History of CCTV

 

 

 

With the introduction of the internet, mobile phones and GPS technology we really are living in a world where our every step can be traced but in stark contrast to the dystopian future Orwell had predicted, we are all openly sharing our information and the main way this data is used seems to be for marketing purposes to gather data on your interests, in order to sell you something. It appears to be more about capitalism than totalitarianism.

 

It's a vicious cycle of consumerism and data gluttony. Once we like or share something we are immediately prompted with suggestions of other things similar to like or buy and once we buy something we see advertising for similar products. I actually feel less invaded by this progression than the 9-year-old me would have thought. While I don't deny that it is possible that this surveillance and collection of data is part of some conspiracy to control us. If that is the case then they have succeeded in seducing us with social media, narcissism and an immediate way to share our thoughts and passions with the world. You can't deny the hold this technology has over us when even the staunchest conspiracy theorists are still sharing their theories on the internet (the very place they believe they are being monitored).

 

Social Media Data Collection

 

 

In Orwell's time, the media was being used as a way to influence how people think through Newspapers, radio and Television. This is very evident in the way that the army recruits young soldiers, the events in every war (especially WWII) or even just the simple ideals people have instilled about marriage, race or religion. It's very interesting how this has changed because as the technology has advanced and the government have more means to monitor or control us. This technology has also made information more widely available to us, giving us more means to do our own research and make our own decisions.

 

 “They got the guns but we got the numbers”
Jim Morrison 

 

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