Not All of Us Live in Public

A still moment from the documentary of “We Live in Public”.

John Harris’s experiments, in which he attempts to reveal the consequences of living under constant public surveillance and the ultimate effect this is having on society, is on the one hand completely relevant and disturbingly revelatory of a possible outcome of society’s cyber-obsession, but on the other hand unrepresentative of the other half of society who is not out to satisfy some exhibitionist craving or chance at five-minute fame.

His first experiment consisted of a group of people who responded to an offering of “free food and drinks” in exchange for uncensored footage of their every moves including things most people don’t even have a curiosity to see other people doing.  But his idea goes beyond a level of public surveillance we as a society have reached thus far; beyond Youtube, Facebook and other social networking sites wherein the information shared is filtered, a selective representation of self-expression which still upholds a healthy condition of self-awareness.

John Harris’s experiments seemed more of an exaggerated example of the up-and-coming network television trend towards reality shows rather than an experiment on futuristic living.  Nevertheless, maybe my skepticism towards Harris’s predictions stem from an uneasiness within me that doesn’t want to entirely accept that this is a potential and imminent reality.  As one peer mentioned in a Twitter reply to the viewing of the documentary, “Interesting how much of what Josh Harris said in ‘We Live in Public’ concerning internet did happen (broadcasting, privacy, etc.)” (@ed9212).

Not having a Facebook profile, MySpace account, Youtube videos or anything of the such, my personal reality is one thing, but the power of the internet is far outside my range of control and possibly my opinion is an uneducated one being that I am hardly in touch with cyber-world, oblivious to probable effects I’m unconsciously experiencing because of it.  Nevertheless, I am still partially unconvinced that Harris was right about everything.  I am, however, convinced we have gotten ahead of ourselves in terms of technology, and just in case…I think I’ll sleep with one eye open from now on.


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