I, like many others, did not really care that the government was listening in on my phone conversations. I mean, I live in Norn Iron right - people have been listened in on to since the Stone Age here. One of the jokes in Derry was that the Army could hear what you were having for tea in Creggan. In Singapore, people who volunteered as activists just accepted that our conversations were being listened in to. We would say, those clicks on the line, well, they are listening to you. A friend even suggested we have all our conversations in Jurong Bird Park because there was very little opportunity to listen in then.
So when Snowdon said, the government is listening in on you, my attitude was, yeah, what's new? Also, it won't stop me from doing what I do, I will simply just do it anyway because it is the right thing to do. So really I never self censored, because, what would be the point?
Also more often than not, I found that the government really didn't care - except that something was different this time. A friend and I were Face Timing when she joking expressed murderous intent towards Donald Trump. Honestly this person is the least political person in the world and I suppose if she knew better she would not have said this online. I immediately said, really, you don't want to be saying things like that on line, because you know, people could be listening in. Well I sorta did mean it, because there was always the possibility - but in a way which we never received any confirmation in the past, apart from the clicks on the line - suddenly, the image was paused and when she returned she was freaking out. Hey you know... she began... a message suddenly flashed up on my screen your camera is being used by another person. Oh my god. It was literally seconds between what she had said and when the interruption took place.
Well, there you have it. Efficient Smurf.
The irony is, of course, if anyone was planning anything, they would not be online any more trying to do this. Which idiot goes through the internet now to plot revolution? You must be really stupid and not know anything about the internet to do this. Anyway do you really need it? The anarchists did not need it, Lenin did not need it, Mao did not need it. All they needed were conditions to be bad enough so that people just had enough - and then they were just the lightning rods through which this happened. So what is super stupid is that secret meetings will still take place and people will continue to organise and that those intent on doing harm - whether they are in the government or in the rebellion - will continue to organise.
What this flashing up of the message does though - it appeared and then disappeared - it tells us that we are being watched. It is the equivalent of the camera being on ALL the TIME - which is makes you think - we are always being watched, whether this is true or not. Bentham's Panopticon, designed in the 19th century was the forerunner of this (also God was the forerunner of this), but this idea that you never knew if you were being watched or not, so you would self police. You would self censor.
DO NOT FALL FOR THIS. Do not self censor, do not do their work for them. Do not. They want you to be frightened and feel fear - do not give into that - they want you to stop talking and stop thinking - it is The Ministry of Information writ large. That they have to resort to this indicates two things - firstly, they know that whatever they have is not working. If it is working then they would not have to resort to violence - whether it is bombing Syria or invading your privacy or cutting your source of income. The second thing it indicates is that they are afraid - they are afraid that they will be found out. My experience with dictators and other autocrats, no matter where they are found - in an organisation or in a country - is that they hold on to power because they are afraid of being brought to account. So they bury their sins through a myriad of ways, including stopping people from questioning them, and making you afraid is one way of doing this.
Well, it so doesn't work with me. Whom do I blame for this attitude? I do not know actually. Maybe I read too many novels, maybe I took the Singaporean pledge too seriously, maybe I took the teachings of Christ and Bhudda too seriously, maybe I have this unshakeable faith in the idea that the truth is an important thing. Whatever it is, my advise to anyone who says, really, I cannot do this or that and I cannot think this or that - well I would say, do not use surveillance as an excuse. What surveillance does is that it really helps you think through things completely. What I often notice is that most of the time just go meh. This is not a criticism, that is ok. 98% of the population just go meh when asked to think too hard. That's ok. But say if you think that this is wrong, what surveillance does is it makes you think and research a little harder. They have said this about that? Oh really? Let me find out more. I need to make up my own mind, thank you very much.
What does worry me though is this - if everything is now found on line and little is found in libraries, then, come the day when governments start controlling information on line, which is easily enough done thanks to search engines, then there will be a dearth of sources which people go to for the correct information. However I believe in the power of human ingenuity - we will find a way. I remember in 2012 there was a real feeling of hope, a turning point for the world - and then it was all taken away. If you watch Film for Action films from around that time, you will notice a real innocence. An innocence which is no longer in the ether.
A hope which has been squashed through the actions of the government. But their hope is to make you despair. To make us think that things can never change. Well things always change - I do not know why they don't understand this. It is Life 101. Things change all the time - the question is, will it change for the better for all or just for a few. I think that in the long run the former is more sustainable than the latter - and well, if those like Cameron and his cronies think that it is just the few which will benefit and that is alright in the long term, and they want to kid themselves as much as they like - they cannot argue with reality. In the end reality will catch up, and it won't matter how many smurfs they have on their team.