Surveillance: real or nah?


Today given the ability of the government to surveil citizens, we wonder if there is really someone living in our computers or phones and watching us through the cameras in our devices. An overflow of memes and jokes on social media make us laugh but ultimately this possibility is really quite frightening.

Is it conceivable in our real world today that George Orwell was right in his dystopian novel “1984” that “Every citizen, or at least every citizen important enough to be worth watching, could be kept for twenty-four hours a day under the eyes of the police.”

I am sure most high school students have been told countless times to be careful of what they put up on social media because they never know who will be watching. Back in 1949, Orwell dealt with this idea as he created “Thought Police” who could allegedly surveil people at all times. Characters lived “in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”

For high school students today, are college admissions officers the equivalent of Orwell’s “thought police”? Is it even true that a college counselor will insert your name into the search engines of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to find out what you are up to when nobody is looking?

Often, seniors in high school who still have Facebook accounts change their names on the site just in case an admissions counselor actually looks them up. If you have not heard of this tactic before or have recently been seeing unusual names pop up on your newsfeed, let me explain what is going on. You take your name and morph it to fit something funny or current. I’ll give you an example just in case you are still confused. Say on Facebook your name is usually Zoe Smith; you would change it to something like ZoYouThinkYouCanDance as a take on the TV series “So You Think You Can Dance.” This is purely a defensive measure since students don’t actually know whether anyone “important” is going to look them up.

Seniors are not the only ones who have to endure the threat of constant surveillance by college admissions departments. After all, police departments, future employers, advertisers, Google, the government (which probably works for Google) – and the list goes on – are also threats to your privacy.

Maybe the camera on your Instagram account is always clicking away without you knowing so that what you post isn’t the only issue. How you live is!

If you are one of the few dinosaurs left who is reluctant to join social media and think you are safe, well think again! I hate to break it to you, but you are not. The camera on your computer also has eyes. Now, you are probably thinking you have outsmarted it because you put duct tape over the camera lens on your computer. Well, what about your phone? If you covered the camera on your phone, you would not be able to take photos! That’s just a simply outrageous idea.

So, what I am trying to say is that if you think you are safe, you are not. Be careful about how and what you post online or the way you act when you are within range of technology. I urge you to also be conscientious about what you do when you are in public because you never know where there could be street cameras.

It is sad we live in a world where we must be so careful, but you are doing your future self a favor by being aware as you never know what could come back to haunt you. Just ask Brett Kavanaugh!