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OUGD501 - Study Task 4 - Triangulation

 Foucault refers to the panopticon as a solid structural enclosed building, but his writings also start to consider Panoptocism in the economy. These ideas can be applied even further into conceptual panopticism and through Social Media, virtual panopticism. Let's look at this from a different angle, for example larger institutions, such as the Government. By interacting with Social Media, we are leaving ‘a digital footprint that is more than likely constantly being dated and timed which also means it can easily be traced, tracked, saved and authenticated. This capability, or the threat of using this capability by those in authority, seems to be a characteristic of the Panopticon.’ (Dewey, 2007). Individualized, enclosed, and under surveillance, this seems like a return to the control of a plague stricken town at the end of the seventeenth century that Foucault began to examine. 

A counter-argument of the similarity between Social Media and the Panopticon is choice. Some may say that Social Media is all about choice. We don't have to have an account and if we do, we only have to allow our real life friends to see our information. We can also choose to have high security privacy settings and if we want, we don't have to have any information or photographs on there at all. ‘One can similarly imagine that if the prisoners in the Panopticon had the ability to present the guards with a representation of their behaviour, they wouldn’t need to regulate their actual behaviour’ (Allen, 2013). Allen argues that on the basis of this, Social Media isn't properly panoptic because users can be selective about what we show, how we perform, and even if we want to perform at all. 

We are under the strict surveillance of Social Media, whilst the people above can easily keep tabs on us, by letting us do their job, keeping tabs on each other. More importantly, we self-regulate. There doesn’t have to be a figure of power above us because we take on both roles without being asked or forced to. Some people may argue that we are our own enemies by being sucked into the whole social media movement and this is different to being locked up in a prison like structure, but the same principles are plain to see working in a completely different, modern day context. 

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