Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

"Big Brother"

Posted March 4, 2009

When I first read George Orwell's science fiction novel entitled 1984 in high school, I didn't really get it. First and foremost, I wasn't a science fiction fan, so I read it with an innate skepticism. Secondly, I couldn't imagine a world where your every move could be monitored and documented.

The premise of the book for anyone who has not read it is that the government watches every move of its citizens through the magic of hidden cameras and audio devices. Hence, the government becomes "Big Brother."

I submit to you that while some overly paranoid people still suspect the government of spying on its citizenry, the government isn't organized enough to pull off such an elaborate, time-consuming and expensive scheme. No, in my opinion, "Big Brother" has arrived, but he isn't representing the United States government. "Big Brother" is us.

Armed with camera phones, everyone who can afford a wireless plan becomes a documentarian of major news events, like the plane crash into the Hudson River, and of much more minor celebrity faux pas, like Michael Phelps' reputation disintegration after the infamous "bong picture."

In the media, we are tasked with sorting out what pictures and videos sent to us are relevant and credible enough for us to use on television and on our Web site. But more importantly, as human beings, we must now be aware that every mistake can become public as quickly as someone can post the picture or video on Facebook.

Orwell was right, we are being watched, but not by the government, by one another-in many ways I think that's even scarier...

About this Blog:

WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.