Big (or is it Little?) Brother is Watching

Are you outside right now?  If so, look around.  There are cameras everywhere: stoplights, toll booths, parking lots, and within millions of cell phones.  They are even in my social media classroom.  Are you paranoid yet?  Yeah, me too.  The video they capture is a powerful medium. Combine an interesting video with the resources of social networking, outlets like YouTube, and blogs (like this one), and you’ve got a potential viral video.  The power of social media.

Just how powerful?  Just how far-reaching?  Well, have you seen this video of an incident involving North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge?

No fewer than three of my Facebook friends posted links to the video this morning.  Probably quite a few more by now.  There are still a lot of questions surrounding this video.  Who were the videographers?  Were they really college students out on a project?  Why did the congressman react in such a manner?  I’ll be interested to hear those questions answered.

Those answers may not matter.  The video is out there and the damage may be done.  The extent of the damage remains to be seen.  Clearly the congressman’s actions were inappropriate.  Yet, I’m not sure I would go so far as to say he assaulted the two “college students.”  To his credit, Congressman Etheridge did issue an appropriate apology on his House website.  (Somehow, that same apology doesn’t appear on his campaign website, though.)  Still, in my opinion, the power of social media is more apparent in the video than in the apology.

So, with all the video cameras in the hands of government, corporations, and ordinary citizens, I have to wonder who is watching whom.  Should I be wary of Big Brother or Little Brother?  Both?  Neither?

I’ll have to ponder those thoughts as I look for my invisibility cloak.  Hey, if I have an extra one, maybe I should send it to Congressman Etheridge.

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