Voluntary panopticon

The secret heart of every panopticon is not the all-seeing-eye, but the confessional. Like a god, the machine already knows what we’ve done. We confess to reclaim our own voices, or sometimes in search of grace—though in the machine, grace is only available to some people, until we make it available to none. The gears of commercial networks are surveillance systems built on structures that elicit a continuous stream of confessions made public. Confessions in public become testimony; testimony summons congregations. We raise our voices in defiance or affirmation, knowing there will be consequences we don’t understand. The databanks grow.


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