Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

1984, A Question of Irony, and a Brief Discussion of Privacy

From yesterday’s USA Today, a very brief article in the USA Round Up:


Alaska: Fairbanks

The number of security cameras in Alaska schools is going up. The Fairbanks Daily News-Mirror reported video cameras are being installed in Fairbanks middle and elementary schools and it’s part of a statewide trend aimed at making schools safer.


As I raised our son, I was – well, most of the time – an attentive parent. I would listen, and when necessary, I would correct. It’s a mother’s job to help her children navigate the pitfalls of life, and to have a tool-box full of resources with which to cope.


Perhaps I did my job too well. Our son became a lawyer, and he is very particular about the things I say, especially when I use a term incorrectly, such as irony.

Here is what Wikipedia says irony is:

event characterized by an incongruity, or contrast, between what the expectations of a situation are and what is really the case, with a third element, that defines that what is really the case is ironic because of the situation that led to it.


I am about to use the term “irony” correctly. ๐Ÿ™‚




When I read the above article, I remembered the horror of Orwell’s 1984, the book, and then the movie. The movie was terrifying, the presence of cameras everywhere, hidden, not hidden, just knowing they were everywhere and everything you did could be monitored.

The irony comes in that here we are, with cameras everywhere, and we are glad for it. The irony is that our society has slipped so far from its ideal that we cannot trust our neighbor to behave him or herself, and we protect ourself by placing cameras so as to encourage people to behave.


I am not so sure that our moral codes have ever worked well; I think it seems to be the nature of humanity to claim a moral code, but not to adhere strictly to it. I think of people who talk about the safety of the ’50’s, but I don’t believe that safety was truly that safe. I think children disappeared. I think wives were beaten, women raped. I think robberies and assaults happened, and I think the law was more lax than it is today.


But it is an irony, IMHO, that we welcome cameras today as a low-cost policing of ourselves, our neighbors, and those we fear will hurt us or take our property. We trust ourselves and one another so little that we are increasingly installing cameras. We’ve been considering installing them through our home security company; we have motion detectors, cameras are just the next upgrade.ย Have we exchanged a high value on privacy for a heightened perceived need for protection of life and property?

September 25, 2014 - Posted by | Books, Character, Civility, Community, Crime, Cultural, Family Issues, GoogleEarth, Interconnected, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Privacy, Quality of Life Issues, Social Issues, Technical Issue


  1. Dear expat wanderer, where have you been in the last two years?

    Comment by Muller | September 25, 2014 | Reply

  2. LOL, hier stehe ich!

    And now, I ask you, with all your adventures and all you have seen, what do you make of the present mess in our favorite part of the world?

    Update: Oops, just read your analysis on aliqapoo; see you also use the ‘mess’ word.

    Comment by intlxpatr | September 25, 2014 | Reply

  3. Hi intlxpatr,
    From the distance my sight has become blurred again. I haven’t travelled recently to the Middle East. Last time I visited the Royal Opera House in Muscat end of 2011.

    But your post is about Big Brother. Do I perceive a bit inadequate propaganda here? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Comment by Muller | September 26, 2014 | Reply

  4. HPM, I am just amazed at how our attitudes towards incessant surveillance have changed; cameras are being installed everywhere, and it is not Big Brother in the form of government installing them, but private citizens interested in security. The police can access most of the functioning cameras and their footage with a warrant, but this is not the government doing, it is OUR doing. I find that enormously unsettling. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Comment by intlxpatr | September 26, 2014 | Reply

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