The Lottery, written by Shirley Jackson, was a short story that involved a yearly ritual stoning that was to guarantee a good crop would be harvested later that summer. Like such a lottery really would make a difference one way or another. The main point of The Lottery is how people can be swayed so easily to be part of the herd mentality. Participants in this story did so willingly though it could be termed morally offensive and repugnant. People join in events, like the above lottery, as it could be termed essential to public order and/or as a form of community bonding. The event could be prolonged to increase the drama and group satisfaction. Or a person could face loss of their social standing in their community and be considered a social outcast. All this would be lost on the person who is considered the “sacrificial lamb” even by immediate family members.

But I’m digressing to a point as I want to know if the increasing security or marketing issues have fallen under the same category. Surveillance has become so prevalent these days I wonder if the majority of people have accepted it as part of today’s world. They could very well feel that if everyone is accepting it they should too. Most never think of the ramifications it has on the global community and on each individual. Every time a reward card is used at a supermarket, retail chain store or use a hand held gadget the information gathered is being recorded somewhere. Is it for marketing purposes or to gain knowledge on a person?

It’s beyond doubt that technology has taken our privacy away to the point that it has disappeared completely. Some say get over it but can we really afford to do that? I don’t see the necessity of some bureaucratic committee micro-managing every detail of a person’s life. The sense of self is being eroded along with how we present ourselves to others. It’s better to do this in a face to face meeting in real life, as opposed to being gleaned from a piece of paper that could be years old. People can and do change over a period of time. So who wants to be something that happened years ago when they just want to leave it behind or just be another statistic?

People should be able to speak what is on their mind, in a truthful manner, without fear of reprisal. Otherwise trust becomes diminished or even non-existent. Rigid conformity becomes the norm and civic participation becomes meaningless especially if private information is gathered and distributed without our knowledge or consent. How we portray ourselves on social media is quite often different from what we are like in private. So what one sees and what they get isn’t always the same. So when personal information gets into the hands of the State or multi-national corporations who knows how much of it gets twisted beyond recognition.

At one time we could learn from our mistakes and carry on with our lives. Eventually they were forgotten and faded into the mists of time. Now we are in a position where bad decisions or careless comments can haunt us to our death. A positive spin is that we need to take care of what we post in cyber world. But we could diversity of viewpoints, intelligent debate and firmly living in the present. I don’t think much of being weighed down by the past as it robs one of their power. Anyone who wants to wipe clean their personal slate may find it difficult to do so as their permanent record holds them back. Then their past prevents them from making necessary changes in their life.

Workplace surveillance must increase stress levels, anxiety and other health concerns several times over. Is it worth watching employees all through the work day when sick time rises or results in a high turnover of staff? There are benefits though as public cameras detect criminals in the act. GPS in cars prevent people from getting lost and help to where we are going if lost. But is the day coming that a person who wants to think and decide for themselves could be become very scarce in our world and become overwhelmed by the current system in place.

Ron Murdock
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