We live in a free society, more or less. We come and go without restriction or interference, unless we’re getting on an airplane and find ourselves suddenly in the undignified stance of padding shoeless through an x-ray machine. Our movements are observed, though, via cameras, particularly at busy traffic intersections. How clever police departments were to put those in place to snap photos of drivers sailing blithely through a red light. There are surveillance cameras in almost every store, parking lot, office building, so the level of observation grows and grows. I, for one, am not all that keen on being filmed so easily, but then I tell myself that being filmed (along with everyone else) isn’t the same as being watched, so my sense of personal privacy is maintained.
At the Boston Marathon scores of people were filming everything on their cell phones, and law enforcement directly solicited their help in finding the bombers. A security camera was probably responsible for identifying the two men suspected of leaving back-pack laden bombs, but even so, the surge in filming by individuals is significant. If you’re a cop, you can’t away with beating someone up if someone else with a cell phone is nearby. If you’re any sort of assailant, the same holds true.
And that’s a good thing, even it means we’re all sort of watching each other all the time. It levels the playing field. Evil doers aren’t faceless anymore, and can’t hide so easily. Just as long as we don’t film each other for the wrong reasons, like stalking someone we’re attracted to or want to blackmail in some way, but then that’s an individual insanity, isn’t it? Not the celebratory spirit that made so many people capture those hardy runners on their phones right up to the point when two lunatics decided to kill and maim.