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?