Hopefully you’re familiar with George Orwell’s dystopian future of 1984. Reading the book is good, but if you’re not a reader then here’s an oldy but a goody – watch and learn:
What relevance does 1984 have to our contemporary culture? The “comforting” slogan of the political party in Orwell’s classic is “Big Brother is watching you.”
Now consider our government’s media regulatory body the Federal Communications Commission. We usually only hear about the FCC when Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunctions, or some loose canon starts saying “profane” words on the television or radio. Here, the FCC’s way of regulating is to throw a hefty fine at the purveyors of pornography and bad taste.
Value judgements aside, the FCC has specialized in censorship for most of their existence. Censorship has no place in a civilization that values transparency.
If the FCC really had so much concern for what the American public watches, then why has the sex and violence on tv consistently increased over the years? One can get away with a lot more these days…
But more troubling than the FCC regulatory failures is the increasing consolidation of media companies. NBC and Comcast (two whales) already merged, and now AT&T and T-Mobile are on the verge of it.
When a monopoly in the media occurs, you can pretty much suspend your hopes for the freedom of information.
I hope that people won’t forget how much of a brainwashing effect that the media has on us. It has lulled us into a profound fog where reality and “media-reality” are becoming frictional. I at least speak from a personal point of view there – but if you can answer yourself honestly you might agree with me.
Now concerning Big Brother becoming a reality (did it already with the Patriot Act?) – I happen to think that there is an element of wisdom about transparency to be had. In Orwell’s book, Big Brother was completely opaque to the citizens of the country, and the citizens of the country were completely transparent to Big Brother. So “transparency” exists in 1984 but it is a lopsided transparency with no hope for equality. We must learn from this and create a civilization where transparency is a shared value rather than a state enforced endeavor.
What’s the big deal about transparency anyway? Transparency allows for accountability. Our current culture has no shame about conducting private meetings, making decisions in which countless human lives are affected. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Governments and corporations should start being more honest with the people they sell their products to.
The internet gives us the ability to share ourselves with the world to the degree with which we are comfortable. Transparency is not exhibitionism, though it certainly can and does include elements of that. Transparency shines a much needed light on many of the shady deals that people daily engage in.
My friend and bandmate, Jonathan Mann, is doing a month long live-stream of his creative process as he is working on a new record. You can check out his stuff here: http://songatron.com/ He is a perfect example of someone who is taking transparency seriously and using the internet as a mode of communication.