Imagine you are partially sighted. Then some brilliant consultant pioneers a new surgical technique that could rectify your faults and give you perfect vision.
What would happen next?
On the one hand, you would feel a lot less vulnerable. You could see your way down stairs, without cracking your head on the low hanging beams or twisting your ankle as you tumble to the bottom. You’d be less reliant on people. There are no words to describe the wonder of the gift of vision.
On the one hand, your new empowerment might offend some people. They could be jealous of your new independence. They might begrudge your happiness. They might even find it threatening. Of course, nobody would want to admit to such selfish insecurities. So instead, they might accuse you, with your 20/20 vision, of creating an Orwellian nightmare.
That’s a phrase that always goes over well with the conspiracy theorists. Never mind that, when you were partially sighted, you relied on someone else with perfect vision making your decisions for you. The crucial point, the aspect that really seems to upset people, is that you now have the power to make your own decisions. You’ve been given better information (in the form on vision) and a lot of people find that quite threatening.
It’s the same with #CMTV (community monitored TV). Many people find a nameless fear about giving other members of the community more power. In some ways, these fears are understandable, as power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. As the unfolding News International/Scotland yard corruption scandal reminds us.
Putting CCTV in the hands of a select, self appointed, unregulated group of unqualified people is indeed dangerous. That is absolute power and it is indeed absolutely corrupting. But if you neutralise the power of CCTV, by giving everyone perfect vision, then that is democracy in action.
If everyone enjoys the benefit of surveillance, that power can never be abused.
To complain about giving individual members of the community more power is like calling Granny’s cataract operation an ‘Orwellian nightmare’.