Big Brother Googles Your Name


Have you ever Googled your name? Sometimes, the things that pop up are surprising. When I search for anything floating around the Interwebs that has my name attached to it, one of the first images that shows up in the results is a photo someone took of me from a little over a year ago. I was at a literature festival hosted by Middlesex University, the school that I attended in London while studying abroad. Whoever took the picture knew who I was. I’m around twenty pounds heavier, and my hair somehow looks even more disheveled.
And this is what people see when they Google me. Great. But I suppose it could be worse. It could be a photo of me from my senior year in high school, my legs up in the air, a keg nozzle in my mouth, and beer spraying all over the place. Or something else that’s incriminating. What upsets me is that I know that my professors–and some of my potential employers–have access to these photos and information, just like everyone else. I’m not ignorant enough to become a “fan” of Rowan on Facebook so that they have open access to my profile, but I am aware that there are students who have “friended” me because they work for the University. I recently made my profile “private,” but I am concerned that it happened too late; I still haven’t heard back from the University regarding a scholarship, and I hate to think that it’s all because there are photographs floating around of me drinking beer.
Vaidhyanathan’s (Siva, consider a pen name, please, for the sake of all writing students) article, “Naked in the ‘Nonopticon’,” discusses the idea of being observed without being aware of it. The state can watch us behave “normally” and identify people who may cause a problem–and get in the way of the state’s agenda. Back in London, I knew that I was being watched by thousands of CCTV cameras. As a temporary resident of a strange new city, I did not exactly mind having the watchful eyes of the government trained on me. It probably kept me from getting mugged by football hooligans. But, I can understand how it is still a violation of privacy. We cannot always act like Grandma is in the room with us. As advanced and civilized as we claim to be, we are still animals, at least in my opinion. We obey the natural laws of nature, not necessarily this fabricated moral code that our Western society has emphasized over the last few decades (and hundreds of years, though it has evolved, and is still changing rapidly).
But I should mind my tongue. They’re watching.


One Response to “Big Brother Googles Your Name”

  1. Siva Vaidhyanathan Says:

    Thanks for reading my article!


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