Orwellian Exposure

If you do not know of George Orwell, I suggest you find out. Lucky for me, some of his writings were required reading when I was in school, which is a bit Orwellian in itself. This post is not about George, but of his “Big Brother is watching you” concept from his book, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Big brother of today is not as overt as Orwell wrote and not confined to just a single government controlling entity.  (I hope.) But for all purposes, big brother exists in a most invasive form. Big brother lives in every electronic form of communication and information system, on and off the planet today.

Big brother’s brain is held in the millions of cheap and rapidly growing computer data storage systems throughout the world. His nervous system was created with the birth of the public and (yes) private Internet systems through which all information can be shared and compared at the speed of light.

The posting of this very message in this blog has added to big brother’s power. Every word has been scanned and alerts and notices posted to other systems. I have permitted this post to be spread to another “Social Communication” system called FaceBook. Where else it may go, I know not.

I belong to other systems that store information about me. LinkedIn is one of them. Microsoft Office 2010 (Beta) is trying very hard to be my “social network”. The fact I posted these two names here will be reported to them. No doubt in my mind.

The company for whom I work is also aware of every word and every thought I create (about them) whether on their clock or not. I have received messages and even phone calls from company folks I don’t even know, when I mention the company name in public electronic print. People are paid to use systems to track that information.

I love my work and my company has been very good to me (Hi there!) Of course I am extremely aware of the big brother environment we have purposefully created through the growth and promotion of the Information Age. What I do in my career helps this network grow every day.

I make buildings and their energy management systems “smart”. My company is very much a “control” business. We are heavily involved with security and video surveillance. I think of it as giving big brother the eyes and physical muscle to physically “do” things like; open doors, change temperature, turn on/off lighting, etc..

Recent TV advertising shows a fellow entering settings in a cell phone for recording TV programs he will miss while his bank is being robbed (hmmm…) or folks turning out lights at home while traveling, using their iPhone or other “communication” device. Do we really want this power or are we are being told we do?

We have created a very powerful big brother system . I find just thinking about it fascinating. I am also strongly aware how else the resulting information base can and is being used.

My wife’s Chevy HHR sends her an email whenever it is time to get the oil changed.

Gloria is recovering from cancer so the car has not been in service for awhile. A “contact” person CALLED HER ON THE PHONE and asked why the car hasn’t moved in 30 days! He also told her the tires were a bit low in pressure.

OnStar can unlock the doors for her or even power down the car at the request of the police.

They call it customer service but it scares the big brother poop right out of me. What have we created!? I was not aware I asked for this service, it just started happening. I envision a bunch of social psychologists at GM sitting around deciding (for me) what experiences I should like. The fact I may actually like the service  is not my point.

I saw some ads (no longer published) where kitchen appliances could be empowered to call the service company and schedule their own repair services. The fridge could probably check the bank account and pay the bill if it is not a free warranty call. Maybe it could add the appointment to the owner’s personal calendar, or unlock the back door for the service person.

The result is we are now more intellectually engaged with our world than ever before. Yes, it is because of the expansion of the Internet. I have to remain constantly alert of what I say and do because of this information sharing media. I am more “public” than I have been since my creation and there is no desire for big brother to give up that power of knowledge of me. He is constantly gathering more of my personal information.

When I buy groceries at the supermarket or anything at a department store, I am encouraged to use my personal store ID card. Why? The clerk tells me it is for discounts, but big brother is also recording my personal buying habits. That information is targeting me for direct marketing for the things I like to buy. It is also stored for uses not yet determined.

Does anyone read ALL the information in the very fine print that tells us what big brother will or can do with information gathered ? I doubt it. Too much information overload.

I am not an information isolationist. I am far from it with my blogs and Internet participation and the work I do for a living. I just realize there really is a big brother. He gives me empowerment as much as he gathers empowerment from me.

I work at keeping what I say and do (within the information network) at what I hope is safe (for me) level and freely shareable with anyone. If I don’t it is my fault. I give away my privacy hand over fist when I choose to play here. There are some decision points where I now think and say NO. That is NOT public information and I do not want to share it. For that reason almost everything in Facebook is turned off by me.

At times I love the freedom to tell big brother about things that are wrong. I hope someone will read what I say and want to make a correction. But freedom of speech has rules too. Freedom of speech is not a license to lie and deceive or preach falsehoods. In the USA, I may be free to speak or write those things but there are consequences to the intent of the words.

I also like to talk about things for big brother to hear that are good and right or just.

My Internet socializing is not a private back room, even when disguised as one. What I say and do here is a party line to the entire world. I will remember that fact.

Hi big brother, I know you are watching…