This past Saturday, thousands of individuals gathered in Washington to protest the U.S. government’s online surveillance programs. Organizers believe an estimated 2,000 people attended this event, with many of them carrying signs sporting such phrases as “Stop Mass Spying” and “Unplug Big Brother.” Big Brother, I assume you know, is an Orwellian reference. In the dystopian society described in Orwell’s classic Nineteen Eighty-Four, the inhabitants of Oceania are under complete surveillance, constantly reminded that “Big Brother is watching you.”
The society in which we currently live, however, does not as closely resemble Orwell’s imagined totalitarian state as we might be led to believe. In our society, unlike the world inhabited by protagonist Winston Smith, Big Brother has no need to exist. This is not to say that there are no valid threats in our world or that I trust my government to do that which is in the best interest of its constituents. I sadly believe neither of these things to be true. The world is a fucked up place and our current system of politics is badly divided and extremely self-serving. Yet, you would never count me among those protesting a violation of privacy.
I affirm that privacy is a civil liberty, yet I witness such biting irony and hypocrisy among many of those who are most vocal about the actions of the NSA, those who would applaud Snowden as a hero while calling themselves patriots. I am acquainted with several individuals among the ranks of those protesting the NSA. I am aware of these objections as they have been posted publically via facebook. I wonder if this is lost on everyone else. How can some of those same individuals who would post their every thought and action on social media be those most vehemently and vocally declaring an abuse of their civil liberties?
I want to shake these people and scream in their faces. Look, asshole! I know you had a real nice blueberry pastry for breakfast because you shared a fucking picture of it on instagram. I know you were late for work this morning because you complained about it on facebook (but let’s hope to hell your boss doesn’t find out about it – or discover all the time you waste at work updating your status). I know that you asked your god for patience this afternoon because you also posted what should be a private, prayerful conversation on your page. I know you needed that patience because Louise in pay roll is a real pain in the ass, as you so noted on your twitter account. And I know that you took a shit at 3:15 in the afternoon because you share every fucking bit of your life story through social media, but I can see how highly you obviously value your privacy. The fuck, people?
Do we need Big Brother? Absolutely not. The majority of America is already allowing access into their private lives. Most Americans are also poorly educated, but at least we’re a very confident and proud bunch and we’re going to let everyone know our accomplishments and opinions. Isn’t that right? I’m certainly not innocent to this crime as I stand upon my soapbox and post said opinions to a public blog. But I’m also not out there bitching about my privacy when there are so many higher ranking problems and priorities in the world.
Further, I wonder what those individuals fear will be found. If you poked around in my world, you wouldn’t find much that I am not already willing to expose. So, let the NSA spy on me and see how much I give a fuck. I hope they have fun watching me do laundry and wash dishes in my old lounge pants. I hope they enjoy watching me read books in bed while snuggling my dog. I’m sure it will be enthralling to see me telling students to quiet down and return to their seats in study hall. And what a special delight to watch me change shit diapers and bitch about my husband sneaking all the kids' Halloween candy. The most damning thing they would find out about me is that I spend an incredibly shameful amount of time playing Farmville.
I must admit that the reason there’s no current dirt to find is not that I’m perfect, or even claiming to be so. Certainly, I have made mistakes and poor choices; my transgressions are probably too many to count. As I’ve grown and matured though, and especially as I have become a mother, I have decided to live my life in such a way that if all my actions were exposed, there would be no great mark of shame upon me. Perhaps, then, we should all assume, rightly or otherwise, that Big Brother is watching our every action because maybe we would be better people for it. Don’t lead lives that you wish to hide.
This post is not intended to condone or endorse the actions of the NSA. However, if you are reading this, you are probably not an international leader. The NSA doesn’t give two shits about what you ate at Culver’s today or what you bought from Wal-Mart this past weekend, so calm the fuck down. You’re not that important, so stop protesting and just be good people. We don’t live in Oceania and Big Brother is not tracking your bowel movements.