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Goodbye privacy, hello political office

November 8, 2010
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In Walter Kirn’s article “Little Brother is Watching” Kirn argues that technologies such as the Internet have “democratized” our society. It seems like you can’t do anything without someone else watching. Social networking sites such as Facebook have taken the private life and exhibited it in a public spectrum. Take Facebook’s newest addition, the “See Friendship” page. Facebook takes all the activity between you and a friend and condenses it all into one page. In simple terms, your friendship with another individual is literally defined by a web page. Every college student Facebook stalks, but in our society it’s viewed as harmless fun. Was that guy you talked to at the party cute? What does your ex-boyfriends new girlfriend look like? If you have a Facebook, you’re a “Little Brother.”

facebook “see friendship” page

When you run for political office, you need to know that your saying goodbye to your private life. Rousseau believed that individuals had to follow the laws that they helped create. While technology is not a law, the same ideal applies. If you use technology, then by tactic consent you are agreeing that technology can be used against you. During political campaigns, every nuance of a candidates’ life is dissected by the press and then broadcast to the world. Bill Clinton’s presidency has been forever smeared with the scandal of Monica Lawinsky. Clinton’s private affairs (no pun intended) were broadcast to the world and ultimately resulted in his impeachment. The press has always been notorious for catching politicians with their hand in the cookie jar. With the technology of today, it’s only become easier and faster for scandals to become uncovered. All you have to do is type a person’s name into a search engine and you have their personal life at your fingertips. If you want a political office, you are going to have to sacrifice your privacy for the good of democracy.

Rousseau’s writings have been misinterpreted to support the idea of a so-called “Big Brother,” a central figurehead who watches over the society and intrudes into an individual’s private life. Rousseau was not a totalitarian philosopher, if anything he was a team player. In his opinion it was about the “we” in society. While Rousseau never had access to an iPhone or a Blackberry I have to believe that he would have supported the “democratization” of our society. Besides, what better way to see an individual persons preferences (or as Rousseau called it, “the will of all”) then to look at their Facebook page.

3 Comments
  1. Amani permalink
    November 8, 2010 7:37 PM

    This is a really interesting point. I agree that Technology has taken over our society, it seems like we, as a society cannot do anything without the help of technology. In regards, to Facebook our personal selves are being broadcasted all over the Internet. Unlike the few people who put their facebooks on private most individuals have their facebook open for everyone to see.

    When you talk about a person running for political office, I totally agree that their personal lives are no longer hidden. There has even been a debate on whether or not companies should be able to search a person’s Facebook, before hiring them. The argument is that if your trying to hide something, than don’t post it all over the web in the first place because you never know what someone can do with it. The other argument is a person’s private life should not determine whether or not they can do a job, such as running for political office. But just like you mentioned all you have to do is search a person’s name on the internet, and your bound to find something about them.

  2. jbrasspolsci permalink
    November 8, 2010 8:11 PM

    As the world around us becomes more technological orientated and advanced, technology will indeed be foreseen to run our lives more on a daily basis. As far as big brother goes, Facebook is something that cannot be identified under the same category, therefore is no “Little Brother”. People choose to advertise themselves through Facebook, such as the things they post about themselves and the ridiculous pictures they have of what they did on a weekend night out. My point, “…saying goodbye to your private life…” through Facebook is completely controllable. Set you profile on private, control who your friends are, or do not have a Facebook at all – it is not required by the government or any individual to be part of a social network.
    As far as running for political office, when you have the eyes of millions of people on you, I do indeed think they are aware that, however private their life might have been before, may not be so private now. However, when you said, “With the technology of today, it’s only become easier and faster for scandals to become uncovered,” I think that’s not completely true considering the Clinton case. He was the President of the United States having an affair – getting caught was pretty much inevitable. Also, when entering the life of a political official, I would think they are aware of giving up some of their privacy for the good of democracy, or in a larger picture the good of the country.

  3. aaronyan1123 permalink
    November 8, 2010 9:35 PM

    Technology is a good example to explain the ‘Little Brother’. I think you are correct on arguing there is less privacy to politicians or publicities than the publics. Since the technology today is well-developed, internet is one of our essentials. Students like us turn in homework through the internet. Office workers have meetings with clients or colleagues through the internet. Housewives do online shoppings. Everyone in this modern world is rely on the internet in certin way. However, the more use of the internet, the less privacy we have because anyone can access to your information over the world. Not even talking about the publicities or politicians, we ourselves, as normal individuals, have so less privacy at all in this world now. We could not imagine how less privacy as publicities would have. There are millions of reporters or followers looking on them.

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