Monday, March 19, 2007

Twitter and Embracing Big Brother...

Privacy advocates seem ready to lay down on the tracks every time a story gets reported on how the government, ISPs, or other entities are monitoring people's internet activity.

But maybe they've got this all backwards. Maybe people actually want to embrace Big Brother. Call it a psychological need to be monitored and live under a microscope, or perhaps its a realization that being watched by surveillance is the closest thing most of us might ever experience to celebrity.

All of which is the new conclusion that might be drawn from the initial success (in publicity and usage terms) of the new web service, Twitter. Twitter is self-described as "a global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?". Shaine Mata posts a better detailed description of the service: "The way Twitter is set up you can have followers, people who are interested in getting updates about what you are doing. Then you can also add friends, people whom you would like to know what they’re doing. Every time you post an update, your followers get the message on their AIM, site, or by SMS. This way, they can follow your activities."

Just what we all needed - another, and this time better, service to facilitate internet stalking. I've railed in the past against how MySpace is primarily used to stalk other people, but Twitter takes it one step further. Now the world can be notified through email, website, cell phone text, or instant messenger that you are "eating a brownie", "having the crappiest day ever", "getting ready to go to Record Exchange and get McDonalds breakfast", etc. (those were just a few live updates of people at this exact moment taken off the Twitter home page).

What's so amazing and leaving me dumbfounded is that this is all VOLUNTARY! At what cultural tipping point did we start wanting to have every aspect of our lives watched, rather than fearing it? Big Brother is alive and well, and only getting more invasive.

Because we want him to be.


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