Recent revelations of extensive online data mining by the National Security Agency should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention for the past decade or so, during which the surveillance dream of Total Information Awareness has become densely interwoven with the media dream of Total Connectivity. Whereas in previous media regimes, state surveillance required that citizens inform against each other, the internet makes it possible for each individual to serve as their very own snitch.
For intelligence analysts, the seductive appeal of a comprehensive map of the “social brain” (we know what you think as you think it) becomes too difficult to resist, just as the appeal of instant and universal connectivity drives individuals into social media.
A society that requires the extraction of information from one neighbor against another will inevitably experience stress:
When every user of the network serves as their own informant, the scenario becomes far more tidy – no need to store stinky seat pads inside laboratory bottles when the same behavioral tendencies and affiliations can be revealed through elegant algorithms. Subjects become willing, and even eager to contribute their resources to the data mine, anxious to prove their innocence through stripping down and bending over, whatever it takes to confirm total obedience.
Those who wish to restore some degree of privacy and anonymity must be willing to modify their relationship to the network, whether that means erasing social media profiles or withdrawing from the use of commercial air travel. Most are unwilling to take such action; networks create their own dependencies, even to the point of addiction. Withdrawal becomes painful and even unthinkable. In this way, subjection becomes voluntary, just as all forms of dissent become criminalized.
In time, severance from the network will become illegal; all citizens will be expected to contribute to the mine. The age of the Delta Depository will be upon us, soon enough.