How much control do we want to give away in order to live our lives the way we want?
Driving up to the traffic lights, I am confronted with a green light to proceed while the cars to my left and right are stopped, because of a red light on their side.
This form of control provides safety and order.
But also at the traffic lights is a red light speed camera, which takes a photo of you if you go through a red light at normal speed and under and it also takes a photo of you if you go through a green light or red light, over the speed limit. And that information is stored by various organizations and contracted out to law enforcement.
And with the rise of phones in cars, in Australia we had laws against texting while driving and when a police officer was hit and lost his legs from a driver who was texting, we now have laws that state we cannot handle or touch our phones while driving.
So to control these new laws, the traffic lights and light poles have extra cameras added to take pictures of drivers inside their cars.
And throwing cigarettes out your window always had a fine in Australia if witnessed by a Police officer, but now there are proposals to make the cameras do all the work.
And of course we have laws against driving intoxicated and affected by drugs.
And all of these traffic lights in our lives create rules and enforce punishment to maintain social control.
Social control in the name of safety.
But a truck driver crossed over to the other side of the road, killed a family in a head on, because he was trying to open a bottle of coke.
So what’s next, laws against coke bottles.
And then we have the social control within family and friends. Everyone wants to belong, no one wants to be alone. So we abide by these norms and rules so we remain part of the tribe as we gossip our way through life.
When you add the criminal justice system which imposes sanctions when the law is broken and the rules and expectations of each company we work for or deal with, it doesn’t feel like freedom and more like control.
Social control is neither bad or good, it just is, because through centuries of control we cannot believe it is possible to live without social control.
And here is the article that influenced this post and Neil Peart was already writing about it in “The Camera Eye” a song about how New York City installed cameras everywhere in a bid to stop crime and make the streets safe again, using a system set up in London, who had to install cameras on every street corner to stop IRA bombings.
Peart made it out that the cameras are chasing the oblivious humans, as the humans do their day to day duties.