One thing that the month of October reiterated, was that the phrase “Big brother is watching you” is our present day reality. Our actions and conversations are being observed and monitored for public consumption.
Last month the Sex for grades BBC documentary premiered. The aim of the documentary was to blow the cover on lecturers in Nigerian and Ghanaian universities who were forcing sexual relationships on students in exchange for academic help. The only way the BBC could get content for the documentary was to be discreet with the gadgets used for filming and recording the perpetrators. These gadgets were so inconspicuous thatthese men acted wantonly. Their freedom coming from the assurance that they were having a private conversation, unknown to them Big Brother was listening to every word and watching every move. Big Brother strikes-one.
Then there was the video of City FM OAP’s dissing Afro pop star Tiwa Savage. This one struck me because I instinctively thought, this could easily be me and my friends talking smart, until we felt stupid when we were caught. The video genuinely seemed like a group of friends engaging in small-talk. Though these women have since been criticized for being spiteful with their words, those words were not intended to be heard outside the four-corners of that room. If they ever suspected that the general public will hear what they had said, or worse that it will get to Tiwa Savage, I am one hundred percent sure that the conversation would never have happened. Big Brother strikes-two.
Then one relatively uneventful day at work, my colleague was laughing, she was watching something on her phone and being curios I asked what it was. It was a video of popular transgender celebrity Bobrisky, having a heated exchange with a man. This man who had hit her car,decided to give her a beating when she confronted him along the express way. The video came from a Jane Doe who happened to be in the area when everything washappening. The video made it to twitter, Instagram, as well as blogs. The comments on the video were as diverse as a box of assorted chocolates. Big Brother strikes-three.
All these events became public knowledge thanks to the digital space we now live and work in. With the advancement in technology, the proliferation of smartphones and the popularity of social media, anything considered interesting is put out there for public view and discourse.
In George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four, Big Brother was the government. But today, Big Brother is anyone with a smartphone, a social media account and access to tech-gadgets. A description that fits a large percentage of our population.
The adverse effect of living in a Big Brother society is the loss of freedom. The fact that your words could be recorded during a conversation, or that your actions are being filmed secretly creates a sense of restriction. We all have moments we do not want the entire world to be privy to, but in a Big Brother society the right to privacy is at best a fantasy.
However, there are advantages to this Big Brother society. I remember some months ago there was a video circulating of a woman severely beating a child and shoving him into a dog kennel. The act recorded anonymously went viral as soon as it hit social media space. There was public outrage and government officials swung into action, soon the woman was found and arrested.
Last month it was the OAP’s, unscrupulous lecturers and Bobrisky that were Big Brothered (a phrase I have coined for the moment a person realizes he/she has been recorded), this month it could be you, me or someone we know. The realization that we are all susceptible to getting Big Brothered can be unsettling but like a Zik Ziglar quote says in part ‘A person with integrity has nothing to fear, because there is nothing to hide.’