Keeping watch over the doors traditionally used to be angel’s business, right? Not so any more. Today we watch the angels.
This is the only image that I made today. Fridays, you know? I shot it on the way from work to Underground to train, the same routine as always these Fridays, 500 meters and no time, but when I saw it, I knew I would at least have something to write about. The original had extremely strong contrasts between a dark, brown door and a white wall, all in bright, flat light, but this B&W treatment makes it even acceptable as a photograph, something which I originally did not dare to hope
Surveillance cameras everywhere. The question is, why do we as a society accept that? Because they don’t immediately hurt? But we do readily give up pieces of freedom, do we? Why? Do we expect to be given them back “in better times”?
And this leads to the core question: What is the perceived value of freedom? It seems to me that it must be extremely low, because it’s given away so easily.
One base assumption seems to be, that you don’t take a risk being kept under surveillance, because decent people don’t have anything to hide. Right?
Plain wrong. Would you readily share the PIN codes of your banking cards? Would you want everybody to know what your sexual preferences are? Would you like everybody to know your health records? Did you never lie? At least a little bit? Is there nothing in your life that you are ashamed of and that you would not like to be brought to everybody’s attention?
The second base assumption is, that those in charge and those having access to such data (i.e. police, the secret services and who ever else) are all decent people, reliable and free of fault.
Now, I really don’t want to stir up mistrust, there is too much mistrust in this world anyway, but it is a matter of principle. All these people are … people. Can we really expect that nobody is going to spy upon their neighbors or former lovers? Can we really expect a group of people to be free of sin, only because it is their profession? How naïve would that be? And why so much naïvety from a society that otherwise mistrusts everyone?
I think it is a deep longing for safety, and safety is what populists promise us, when we only give up some freedom, but has the world become a much safer place during the last years? I suppose not.
On the other hand, our society has indeed become much less free. We are watched by cameras, the traces we leave online are officially available to security forces, there is much less room for privacy now, and according to the the general attitude of those in charge, we all are now guilty until proven innocent. This touches pretty much every democratic constitution in the world. Do we really want that?
Can anyone enlighten me? Now, seven years after 9/11, what is the price you are ready to pay for freedom? What is the price you are ready to pay for safety?
The Song of the Day is “Angels” from David Byrne’s 1994 album “David Byrne“. Hear it on YouTube.