All those cameras

July 10, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More

Here’s a random thought. I suspect that small tightly-knit communities–small towns–have tended to produce, on average, more people with a traditional sense of morality–more people with strong consciences. Don’t steal, don’t kill, be kind, look out to help others in need, for instance. I don’t know this to be a fact. Rather, it’s anecdotal, but it’s based on 54 years of experience. I also suspect that part of the reason that this is true (to the extent that it is true) is that people in small towns keep a close eye on each other. In small towns, I suspect that children grow up more closely watched and corrected by others (especially corrected by neighbors and even strangers) when they gets out of line. I think that this sort of upbringing will tend to produce more of a traditional moral “conscience.”

Now consider that there are a lot of cameras out there these days. Lots and lots of government cameras, of course, but also millions of phone cameras as well as plain old . . . cameras. Anything unusual that happens out in a public space is now likely to draw at least some photos and video.

Is it possible that all of these cameras in big cities might have the effect of turning big city “dog-eat-dog” people into something more akin to small town people? Will the presence of so many cameras tend to make big city people feel constantly “watched.” Will that, in turn, encourage big city individuals to develop traditional moral habits?


Category: Good and Evil, Psychology Cognition

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    Dog-eat-dog is a moral position, an abdication of personal responsibility (as to a parent figure who promises to forgive anything, like America's favorite deity).

    Public cameras only capture overt public actions. Word of mouth indicts amoral actors.

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