Uncle Sam

Big Brother’s Digital House of Mirrors

September 24, 2012

Multiple Pages
Big Brother’s Digital House of Mirrors

While 22-year-old Klein Michael Thaxton was holding a hostage in a Pittsburgh high-rise on Friday, he allowed the world to peek into his troubled soul via the miracle of Facebook. As he held his victim at bay with a hammer and knife, Thaxton also watched the hostage crisis unfold on television. Through a digital house of mirrors, modern technology enabled him to watch the world watching him.

During a nearly six-hour standoff with police that ended peacefully, anyone perusing Thaxton’s Facebook profile could see he’d chosen a cover photo depicting Netanyahu, Obama, and Ahmadinejad. He also enjoyed playing video games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

On Facebook, he had befriended personages who’d swaddled themselves in such kaleidoscopically flavorful ghetto handles as PrettyBritt Still Shittin, Keke Ohhsoopretty Kardashian, and Shae’Rhonda Onmyshit Goodwine.

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. In fact, that’s the reason they’re out to get you.”

After his surrender to police, it was revealed that Thaxton may have chosen his victim merely because he espied a computer, a smartphone, and a television in the man’s 16th-floor office. During the ordeal, Thaxton pecked out the following cries for help to his Facebook profile:

i cant take it no more im done bro

how this ends is up to yall bro real shyt

welln pops youll never have to woryy about me again you’ll nevr need to by me anything no need to ever waste ur hard earned money on me. i’ll live n jail you dnt want me around anymore thats kool bye…i love u assata sis

this life im livn rite now i dnt want anymore ive lost everything and i aint gettn it back instead of walkn around all broke n shyt while niggas stunt on me n shyt

fake mafukaz, thats the shyt i dnt like!

Most of his Facebook acquaintances were supportive and urged Thaxton to calm down and seek help. Then, apparently in response to someone who goaded him to “poop out [the] window,” Thaxton made his final post before police were able to temporarily get the plug pulled on his Facebook page:

stop postn silly shyt bruh i aint laughin rite now nigga!

After his arrest, the Internet—where everyone is gradually getting to know everything about everyone else, whether they reveal it themselves or have it revealed for them—was flooded with more personal information about Thaxton. It turns out he’d signed a “separation agreement” with the US Army in 2010 and was arrested a year later on an array of charges that included robbery and reckless endangerment. He was also an erstwhile hip-hop artist who’d gifted the world with such tracks as “Blueberry Piss.”

The attention-seeking self-defeating reality-TV narcissism of Thaxton live-blogging his own crime recalled a similar situation in Utah last year, when Jason Valdez kept his Facebook friends apprised during a 16-hour standoff during which he informed his friends that his female hostage was “cute.” It recalls the grisly 2011 case in Australia where a man live-blogged his stabbing murder of his two-year-old daughter. It recalls the young idiot thugs so desperate to preen in front of what is essentially the World’s Mirror that they post videos where they beat men to death or drive through neighborhoods randomly shooting bullets into the streets. It recalls the heavily trafficked site WorldStarHipHop, described by its proprietor as the “CNN of the ghetto,” which regularly features voluntarily submitted handheld videos of people beating their victims unconscious, often while onlookers guffaw and even brag about how the clip will be a hit on WorldStarHipHop.

It also recalls the eye-stabbingly depressing tales of women who were depressed enough to commit suicide but also vain enough to provide live updates on Facebook, such as a Taiwanese woman who self-asphyxiated after her boyfriend left her alone for her birthday and a British woman who overdosed on pills while her “friends” left mocking comments.

For many in the modern world, it seems more important to be famous than well adjusted. In an increasingly collectivized digital universe where privacy and individuality are rapidly being erased and technology has herded everyone into an insane state of hyperreality, it has also become more important to try and “save face” than “appear sane,” as in the case of the British man who murdered his wife after she changed her Facebook status to “single.”

Enter the surveillance state to the rescue. They are here to protect us from all those scary people. They are the high-tech voyeurs who keep tabs on these low-IQ exhibitionists. They are the silent lurkers who watch the loudmouth showoffs.

And whether we like it or not—I fail to see that we have any choice—we are paying them billions of dollars to spy on all of us.

Naturally, any murmurs that the government’s main business is not to protect us but rather to consolidate and sustain their own power will be written off as baseless “paranoia,” which is clearly distinguished from the legitimate “fear” they want us to feel toward idiot thugs who hold people hostage merely so they can rack up more “Likes” on Facebook.

But in this case—and maybe I’m paranoid—I sense we have far more to fear from the professional voyeurs than from the amateur exhibitionists.

The exhibitionists may be stupid enough to film everything while they’re robbing, kidnapping, or killing you, but at least they don’t claim the legal authority to do it. The voyeurs are far more intelligent, which is why they cloak such predations in gentler terms such as “taxation,” “incarceration,” and “capital punishment.”

Certainly it’s cuckoo to ever dare question what our friends in the government do with the $50 billion or so we pay them yearly for their “black projects” that are so top-secret we couldn’t handle the information if it were disclosed. One would have to be wearing a tinfoil hat and receiving AM radio transmissions in their tooth fillings to wonder why the National Security Administration—AKA “Never Say Anything” and “No Such Agency”—is building a $2-billion spy center in Utah apparently designed to record everything everyone does on the Internet at all times. One would have to be schizophrenic to worry about the fact that CIA Director David Petraeus recently boasted about how everyday household gadgets will be able to monitor nearly everyone’s actions whether they’re exhibitionists or not.

Don’t worry about the fact that the Department of Homeland Security might suddenly become interested in you should you use any of their flagged keywords during online discussions. And pay no mind to the fact that the Federal Reserve wants to hear what you’re saying about them on Facebook. And blot from your brain the idea that there’s anything Orwellian about the terms “vengeful librarians” and “Total Information Awareness.”

Never in world history has Big Brother had such expansive ability to watch you. And all the hiding places are evaporating like dewdrops in the summer sun. But you shouldn’t care as long as you’re not doing anything wrong, right? Just keep hoping that they don’t keep expanding their definition of what’s wrong.

Don’t let any of this terrify you, because they’re keeping you safe from the terrorists. Stay scared of the small timers and quit being paranoid of the high rollers. Keep sweating about those who might rob you once on Craigslist and pay no heed to those who continually rob you in the name of the law. If you think too hard about any of these things, you might go crazy, which seems to be what they want. So for the sake of your sanity, our protectors would prefer that you don’t think about any of these things.

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. In fact, that’s the reason they’re out to get you.


Image of Big Brother courtesy of Shutterstock

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