By exposing the wrongs of police and politicians, video-phone democracy is reinventing freedom. But is this just another form of mob rule?
By MICHAEL HIRSH July 23, 2015
This is a weird hinge moment in history. Many of us who grew up in the latter decades of the 20th century, when the Cold War was still on, were taught to fear an Orwellian Big Brother, the all-seeing eye of a totalitarian police state. In the last few years revelations about the National Security Agency’s intrusions into our private world have made some people wonder if that nightmare might still be coming true in this century.
Yet something closer to the opposite seems to be happening: We are all becoming Big Brother, collectively. Big Brother is us.
Our ubiquitous phone and surveillance videos, transmitted by our tweets and our messaging on Facebook, Instagram and other outlets—the still-embryonic but swiftly rising power of social media—are gradually allowing us to reassert the power of the individual (or at least large numbers of individuals) over the state and our politicians. A new force in the land, the electronic grassroots if you will, is pushing our politicians and police as never before—not to mention holding public icons and celebrities, like Bill Cosby, to account. We’re installing some sort of new order together, one we haven’t defined, and we barely seem to realize it.
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