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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:52 am 
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It suddenly occurs to me that the ubiquity of motion cameras in everyone's pocket telephones has ended an age of privacy that began when whitegoods displaced ubiquitous servants.

Before modern plumbing, washing machines, freezers, suck brooms, and drip-dry fabrics, the houses of the rich and middle-class were infested with observers who were prone to gossip: cooks and cleaners and the "hewers of wood and carriers of water". The rich and middle-class therefore had to comport themselves in their own homes in a way that, when reported by their servants, would not cause them disgrace and embarrassment.

Then we got plumbing and whitegoods, so servants became a rarity. That saved the upper-middle and lower-upper classes a lot in the way of wages and accommodations for servants. It also gave them privacy in their own homes and allowed them to abandon starchy decorum.

Now we have iPhones, bystanders on the sidewalks have iPhones, our silly drunkened friends have iPhones at our parties. Anyone of any celebrity is now as closely watched as when they all had servants, as are many people who would never be able to afford servants were servants still a thing. Any quip can become a scandal, a celebrity can be disgraced for licking a doughnut, and the days of not bothering with clothes in your own swimming-pool or when playing snooker with prostitutes are drawing to a close.

Stiff decorum was a reaction to being always watched. It might well re-emerge.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 3:17 am 
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Either that, or people on the internet need to learn to stop being reactionary idiots who express frothing outrage at the slightest thing.

Even with ubiquitous "stiff decorum" I'm sure someone will find something to rage about...

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:19 am 
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Location: Near Frankfurt, Germany
EDG wrote:
or people on the internet need to learn to stop being reactionary idiots who express frothing outrage at the slightest thing.


Good luck with THAT!

Expressing frothing outrage over the intellectual, behavioral and moral inferiority of those one wishes to feel superior to (also known as "gossip") is a cornerstone of human social behavior.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 8:18 pm 
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It's the new totalitarianism. This sort of repressive regime doesn't need a single "Big Brother" type of tyrant, instead there is blind mob rule over the internet. There is no need for the State to go out of its way to spy on people - most people now WANT to be spied on and photograph their entire lives to post online. No need to have government thugs to publically denounce the Enemies of State - the enemies of the internet consensus get denounced and lynched (sometimes online, sometimes also physically) by the online mob. You have to be very careful about what you say otherwise someone may use it against you. You have to drink the cool-ade or you get shamed online. The governments, even the ones most prone to spying on their own citizens (e.g. USA and China) are always several steps behind the online social network. Everyone is spying on everyone else, this is how they get their kicks.

So I wouldn't be surprised if people will start acting as people have acted in the totalitarian states of the past - being very careful about what they say, very secretive about things they can still hide from the online community, and parroting the consensus in public even if they hate it in reality in order to avoid shaming and online lynching.

It's Salem all over again - let's shame the witch! (she'll burn/hang/cut herself in many cases following this kind of abuse).

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2015 7:57 am 
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I think you over-estimate the effectiveness of servants in revealing the dirty laundry of their employers. Sure back then everyone KNEW that Mr Smythe-Urquhart was a terrible drunk who beat his wife (rather than just suspecting it today), but no-one DID anything about it. After all, it would be the word of a Gentleman against the word of a mere servant...

There's a humorous Saki (HH Munro) short story about a talking cat (written in 1911 or thereabouts) which threatens to reveal everyone's secret assignations and bitchy gossip. It doesn't end well for the cat!
http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/l_tober.htm whole story here


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