Author Topic: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon  (Read 2143 times)

Cramulus

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Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« on: June 07, 2016, 04:04:33 pm »
One of the interesting things Junkenstein touched on in the Laws thread is the the intersection of law enforcement and surveillance.

The current incarnation of the justice system is based on some ideas that were kicking around the post-monarchial world and went through the wash a few times until they came out clean enough to sell. Namely the Panopticon.

The idea is that bad people will keep doing bad things when the authority isn't looking- so you should put prisoners in a place where they can be observed. Maybe it's that their prison cell faces a 1-way mirror and there might be a guard on the other side who gives them a demerit if they don't act right. Or maybe it's because they're picking up trash by the side of the road and they are constantly feeling the judgment of the public.

But the effect of observation is that it forces the person - the target of the discipline - to internalize a set of rules. They have to behave in a certain way to avoid reprimand, and eventually they internalize these rules. That's how you affect somebody's spirit, you make them build the laws inside of them, going through the motions with their body. Even if they're faking it, still thinking criminal thoughts, eventually this will be eroded by routine and discipline.

And that's how we built schools, prisons, the military...

And now we're in the social media era, everything can be uploaded, commented on, upvoted and downvoted.

There was a twitter account that this guy started on a subway in NYC, it was just supposed to document people who were taking up too much space, or doing asshole things that aren't appropriate for the subway. He wanted to shame people. And it turned into this really acrid account where he was just picking on people for the way they were dressed, etc. And eventually, the backlash came to him - somebody figured out who he was, and got his pictures up on Twitter. Then, anybody who saw him in public would take a pic and tweet it at that account. He used his phone camera as a weapon, and discovered it was a double-edged sword.

What rules are being enforced by the social media panopticon?

The terms of the transaction are: you trade some your privacy for access and community.

Years ago, I thought the way to deal with this was twofold:

1. Maintain the ability to disappear completely. At any time you should be able to kill your account and escape from whatever storm is chasing you. To do this successfully, you should avoid using your real name on the net. You should keep personal details obscured, and don't leave any channels open that you can't later close.

2. Chaff. Cover your social media with false cues and information. This way, anybody datamining you will get confused and the value of any given data will come under question.


Are those still good strategies?

My real name is on FB, it's easy to track me down... it's a bit harder to figure out my real name from here, so maybe the ability to disappear completely is more contingent on (a) how well you've compartmentalized, and (b) how motivated people are to connect the dots.

If I publish Chaff, it kind of gets in the way of the point of using social media to begin with.

and as I think about the steps you have to take to escape an angry wasps nest, I think to myself... what rules do I have to follow to avoid provoking the wasps to begin with? what rules has this panopticon made me internalize?  What rough edges have I actually sanded off, not just concealed? Has the presence of this social power refined me like a crucible, or restricted me like a warden supervising a chain gang?



Junkenstein

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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2016, 05:16:22 pm »
Interesting.

Quote
Years ago, I thought the way to deal with this was twofold:

1. Maintain the ability to disappear completely. At any time you should be able to kill your account and escape from whatever storm is chasing you. To do this successfully, you should avoid using your real name on the net. You should keep personal details obscured, and don't leave any channels open that you can't later close.

2. Chaff. Cover your social media with false cues and information. This way, anybody datamining you will get confused and the value of any given data will come under question.

There was, and still is, option 3 - Never involve yourself with it to begin with.

This was my chosen strategy and I've had no cause to regret it. Indeed, as various revelations come out I'm increasingly glad of my decision to abstain from them all. While there are some disadvantages to this I find the benefits vastly outweigh the cost. The main one is the same on both sides, I interact with people far less frequently. This suits me as by and large I find people intolerable. This harms me as I take in far less information generally. Do I need to know or care about any of this information? Possibly. However by choosing to avoid it I can't say with certainty either way. There's probably content that I would have both been interested in and care about but in relative terms there's also another 5000+ years or so of written content to wade through. When you add in any modern (post 1800~) sources then it's already far more than you are likely to have time to experience anyway.

When it is already impossible to consume the existing quantity of media, I would suggest you have to be remarkably selective about anything you put in the "Interests me" pile. You would literally have to spend multiple weeks (actual time, as in 150+ hours) to watch the entirety of "24". You may also have to realise that you're watching questionable things be justified. This is also just one series, of which there are many, many more. Some longer running, some with more questionable morality, some are even laudable.

So who do you trust to provide these recommendations on how to spend your time? Friends, family and other associates through social media are quite common. What do your friends, family and associates all have in common? The first obvious factor is you. Unless you are particularly widely travelled and interacting many people with at various levels of wealth, these people will all be quite like you more than not. Sure X may be an asshole Y voter, but their lifestyle and experiences will find a lot of common links.

What that then devolves into is just a slightly distorted echo chamber. Anyone too unpalatable to your chosen din gets removed or blocked. If you could get the stats, I'd bet that Facebook shows peaks and troughs of friends being removed in relation to new stories. You just know that countless people have removed each other because they're a Trump/Clinton voter.

In short, it looks to me like the only winning move is not to play.

Quote
and as I think about the steps you have to take to escape an angry wasps nest, I think to myself... what rules do I have to follow to avoid provoking the wasps to begin with? what rules has this panopticon made me internalize?(1)  What rough edges have I actually sanded off, not just concealed?(2) Has the presence of this social power refined me like a crucible, or restricted me like a warden supervising a chain gang?(3)
     

1-I would suspect it has largely re-enforced existing norms in a given culture. Social media does not occur in a vacuum, it IS media based on a pre-existing social norms and standards. Given that people will largely interact with those like them, it will serve to re-enforce those behaviours to a higher degree. A layer of tarmac over a concrete base if you will. While it does relatively little, it makes it harder to penetrate any set ideas and/or prejudices. Few raving atheists get online and convert and the pious rarely turn into Dawkins. So, it's only really a problem if you've done something unacceptable or notable that then travels beyond your immediate circle.


2 - If you've ever written something and then chosen not to post it despite fully agreeing with the expressed thought, then you've probably had a bit of chiselling done to you. For instance, there's the stack of people who have been sacked over something social media related. I'd guess a few of them have learnt a fairly harsh lesson and chopped parts of their personality from online. Others will give less fucks and continue to repeat the lesson. In this age it's a very real thing to be sacked from a job while doing something unrelated to the job in your own time. Expressing interests in some things will limit your employment options and potentially bar you from many. For example, there's no-one who "Likes" the IRA working in any nuclear facilities in the UK. A poor example but you get the idea.

3-Unless you've got a particularly good deck of contacts that actually provide information you would never have come across or sought out or they challenge you in a meaningful way, restricted. It's difficult for me to come to another conclusion.

Nine naked Men just walking down the road will cause a heap of trouble for all concerned.

LuciferX

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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2016, 05:43:16 pm »
One of the drawbacks I find with not using social media is that it has become the de facto way of comminicating for an increasing number of people.  In the future we might not even have the capacity to recognize people that are not in our facebuuk in the first place.
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Cramulus

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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2016, 06:09:40 pm »
There was, and still is, option 3 - Never involve yourself with it to begin with.

well you are posting on a forum, so..  :p

But yeah, this is the minimum amount of privacy you can trade for community.


I like your comparison between engaging in social media and committing to watch 150 hours of a TV show. Do you need it? Is teaching you good messages? Is it worth the sacrifice?

Me, I got a FB account years ago when it was the best way to communicate with a girl I was interested in. And then I found out I had been missing parties my friends were throwing, because they were only sending out invites via FB. So it was immediately worth it to me. But there, I'm really just talking about its utility in facilitating local communication.

I do find I have a number of friends who I see like 1x per year, and reading their damn status updates every day helps me feel like I "know" them. When I do see them in person, our relationship feels richer, we have more to talk about, I understand them better. So that's a benefit, for me at least.

But it's really hard to measure the drawbacks - the reenforcement of norms, the bubble effect, the groupthink... a lot of the drawbacks are intangible, or are just levels of risk.

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2016, 06:27:11 pm »
My account info is a mishmash of accurate and inaccurate information.

And I'm not worried about more sophisticated data mining.  It just isn't a concern.
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LuciferX

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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2016, 06:31:26 pm »
Quote
But it's really hard to measure the drawbacks - the reenforcement of norms, the bubble effect, the groupthink... a lot of the drawbacks are intangible, or are just levels of risk.
Of the "intangible" drawbacks to social media, one of the most insidious I think is how it reinforces the "society of the spectacle".  The depth of feeling inherent to direct IRL human interaction is covered and obstructed by the superficial visual constructs we first use to represent, identify and tragically seduce ourselves.  I suppose the cost of being the star in the movie of our lives is to become out of touch with what is not inside our bubble.  Now that's dangerous.
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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2016, 06:40:18 pm »
I feel that I'm almost always editing my thoughts and actions in public, and not just online.

I wouldn't talk about getting balls-out drunk at work, and I wouldn't talk about legal contradictions in life insurance at band practice.

I wouldn't talk about assless chaps and chest harnesses during a visit to the museum with my parents, and I wouldn't talk about the visceral emotional sensitivity of Degas at the Gay Bar.

So for me, FB is just another frame for me to gauge which comments to use, and which to reserve.  I do recognize the possibility of echo chambers, group think, "the evaporative cooling of group beliefs," and the rest, but it's usually falls in the camps of "I'm not going to post this because don't feel like taking the time to fully explain this to everyone in my network", "It's not worth it to respond to this since it most likely won't change anything", and "I don't care if you like this or not".

That still gives me a lot of leeway though, if you've browsed through my FB page.  The only time I've experienced negative blowback is when I was trying to troll, be provocative, or otherwise ignoring my guidelines. 

Junkenstein

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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2016, 06:43:40 pm »
My account info is a mishmash of accurate and inaccurate information.

And I'm not worried about more sophisticated data mining. It just isn't a concern.

Curious as to why? I have my suspicions but don't want to assume too much. Guessing it's a "scale of immediate concerns" thing?
Nine naked Men just walking down the road will cause a heap of trouble for all concerned.

Junkenstein

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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2016, 06:48:00 pm »
Quote
I wouldn't talk about assless chaps and chest harnesses during a visit to the museum with my parents, and I wouldn't talk about the visceral emotional sensitivity of Degas at the Gay Bar.

For science, please try this. Results are assured to be interesting at the least.
Nine naked Men just walking down the road will cause a heap of trouble for all concerned.

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2016, 07:22:43 pm »
My account info is a mishmash of accurate and inaccurate information.

And I'm not worried about more sophisticated data mining. It just isn't a concern.

Curious as to why? I have my suspicions but don't want to assume too much. Guessing it's a "scale of immediate concerns" thing?

Because there isn't very much to latch onto, so I have higher-order concerns.
" It's just that Depeche Mode were a bunch of optimistic loveburgers."
- TGRR, shaming himself forever, 7/8/2017

 "Billy, when I say that ethics is our number one priority and safety is also our number one priority, you should take that to mean exactly what I said. Also quality. That's our number one priority as well. Don't look at me that way, you're in the corporate world now and this is how it works."
- TGRR, raising the bar at work.

LuciferX

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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2016, 08:11:58 pm »
Quote
But the effect of observation is that it forces the person - the target of the discipline - to internalize a set of rules. They have to behave in a certain way to avoid reprimand, and eventually they internalize these rules. That's how you affect somebody's spirit, you make them build the laws inside of them, going through the motions with their body. Even if they're faking it, still thinking criminal thoughts, eventually this will be eroded by routine and discipline.

And, constantly second-guessing oneself, looking left and right for approoval, does not lend itself fully to moving forward.  This is true from sprinting/running to making art (The Lives of Others).  Biologically, in the long run, the over-application of this impediment is the evolutionary equivalent of a death knell.

Quote
The evaporative cooling of group beliefs
I was expecting more from this?
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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2016, 08:36:25 pm »
Quote
The evaporative cooling of group beliefs
I was expecting more from this?


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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2016, 09:16:02 pm »
The biggest drawback of the panopticon isn't being profiled and being aware of what I post, its the kind of discussions I am willing to have, and conversely, if people will engage with me honestly about those conversations. The obvious taboo illegal subjects are a no no for everyone, no one will engage on the topic of drugs etc.
But the more insidious ones are topics that are negative but need to be talked about.

Someone I know killed themselves in January and I was going to make a post about it on Facebook, I write it, delete it, rewrite it, delete it and finally give up, because "Its not right for Facebook" thatís when I kind of gave up on it as a platform for discussing Who We Are, with the people we know, to what articles we share with the people we know.

LuciferX

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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2016, 11:02:06 pm »
Quote
The evaporative cooling of group beliefs
I was expecting more from this?


:lulz:
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LuciferX

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Re: Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2016, 12:05:22 am »
The biggest drawback of the panopticon isn't being profiled and being aware of what I post, its the kind of discussions I am willing to have, and conversely, if people will engage with me honestly about those conversations. The obvious taboo illegal subjects are a no no for everyone, no one will engage on the topic of drugs etc.
But the more insidious ones are topics that are negative but need to be talked about.

Someone I know killed themselves in January and I was going to make a post about it on Facebook, I write it, delete it, rewrite it, delete it and finally give up, because "Its not right for Facebook" thatís when I kind of gave up on it as a platform for discussing Who We Are, with the people we know, to what articles we share with the people we know.
I'm sorry to hear about the passing, and your reticence.  Since the web started getting all spooky I haven't been able to personally solve the public/private dilemma, and it's a shame.  As a temporary patch, I was thinking, what about having a "closed" bar, members only, where personal and non-GASM stuff could be addressed under the premise that everything there discussed was sub-rosa?
Hic Salta?
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Constant Eso-Opthamologist of Elicited Stopped-Clock Illusions, brings it back, or sinners just repent______