I started suggesting jokingly that if it isn't on social media it didn't happen. Then I started saying it l seriously because I realized it's becoming true in our culture.
It's like that if a tree falls in a forest and nobody's around... question we ask. If an event happens and nobody is there to capture it and share on social media, did it happen? For most people, the answer is a (sub)conscious: no.
I remember learning about the panopticon in first year undergrad, and how interesting/scary of a concept it was—the idea that if you could make it a person feel watched all the time, it would drastically change the way they behaved in the world.
And then I started thinking thinking the other day: have we reached the era of the panoptstigram? The era in which we no longer feel we are always being watched by others, but are now always the people who are doing the watching? Are we now the ones operating the panopticon with our need to capture everything and share it on social media?
Think about it.
Many of us travel around with our phones in our pockets, and while they may not be turned on in our hands all the time, they are still turned on in our minds. We are walking around constantly, and waiting, searching, observing, watching for the right moment to take out our phone, start taking photos, and then share them in a digital world.
And other people know we are doing it too, because they are doing the same thing—watching us. So now they are watching us, and we are watching them. And now, this makes everybody become their own little panoptic-camera, walking around, capturing the world and other people in their little lenses, and it most certainly changes the way we think, act, feel, and be in the world.
Yes, we have arrived at the age of the panopstigram. We are now being watched and watching.
Is this a good or bad thing? Who can say for sure at this point in time, because it's such a novel presence in our lives. I'm sure we'll know in time. But whatever the case, the panopstigram has definitely changed the way we live. For better or for worse.