Friday, 29 August 2008

culture of surveillance contributes to mental illness

international herald tribune article
mentioned on Wired: threat level

Apparently, psychiatrists are finding more people reporting feelings of being watched, under surveillance by the internet, or feeling like they are starring in a Truman Show like movie.
They go on to say that people would likely have delusions anyway, but current cultural concerns likely inform the nature of the delusion.

I'm tempted to say 'delusion, what delusion', but thats cheap writing. Its like the problem in epsitemology with the fake sheep, hiding a real sheep in a field. You see the fake sheep, mistakenly think you've seen a real sheep, and say you know there is a sheep in the field. You're correct, but you can't be said to know this, because your mechanism for knowing it is faulty.

(there may be other ways this is commonly put, but sheep is the way my philosophy tutor did it, so its good enough for me)

There is a heavy amount of surveillance in modern society, but a lot of it isn't focused on individuals with the intensity of the Truman show. Instead it tends to be database driven, using the collection of lots of little bits of otherwise meaningless data on large groups, and collating that data. Or retroactive data collection on individuals, once they become 'of concern'. So it is fairly delusional for most of us to think we're being 'watched' 24-7. Leaving data trails? oh yes, pretty constantly...

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