Raising Up an Orwellian Generation

By John W. Whitehead
10/11/2010

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face–forever.–George Orwell

When my granddaughter was a baby, she was blissfully unaware of the fact that she was under constant surveillance. Between her doting parents, her equally doting grandparents and a baby monitor that was always turned on and tuned in, there was little she could do that went undetected. When dealing with a precocious infant, such constant watchfulness is undeniably a good thing. However, I can’t help but wonder at what point and at what age such surveillance, especially outside the home, stops being beneficial and starts teaching young people that they have no right to privacy. When does concerned supervision become subtle indoctrination geared toward meek acceptance of a totalitarian society?

Modern technology now makes it possible for roaming digital eyes to keep young people under observation from the moment they step foot on a bus until they arrive home. In fact, schools both small and large have littered their hallways, classrooms and even buses with surveillance cameras. Yet that’s not all.

The majority of schools today have adopted an all-or-nothing lockdown mindset that leaves little room for freedom, individuality or due process. Metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs and pat-down searches have become commonplace, while draconian zero tolerance policies characterize as criminal behavior the most innocuous things, such as students in possession of Alka-Seltzer or a drawing of a soldier. A handful of schools have even gone so far as to require students to drape Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags around their necks, which allow school officials to track every single step students take. So small that they are barely detectable to the human eye, RFID tags produce a radio signal by which the wearer’s precise movements can be constantly monitored.

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