Do you feel as if there are always people watching you?
Not in a raging paranoia, tin foil hat wearing kind of way, but rather just everyday normal life. That from the second you set foot outside your front door, all the way through almost every single step along the way, that from somewhere, anywhere, there are eyes watching.
It has been suggested that the UK is the most watched country in the world, with enough cameras keeping tabs on everyone and everything for one per eleven members of the population. The more you think about it, the more chance there is for it to niggle at the back of your mind.
But we like to watch other people don’t we?
We all enjoy indulging in a little gossip from time to time but over the last twenty years or so, our watching of others has exploded.
The actions of the public are now a major element of our entertainment diet in the form of reality shows of any and all shapes. What would Christmas be without The X Factor? Hasn’t Big Brother gone well past it’s best before date? Isn’t Gogglebox a programme about watching people watching TV?
We know that we have to be aware of the eyes watching us. We know that speed cameras are out there to catch drivers going over the speed limit. We’re familiar with cameras watching over our streets in an attempt to minimise antisocial behaviour and as such, we behave accordingly.
Now the purpose of this post isn’t to pass comment on the relative rights and wrongs of such things, rather I’m looking at the behaviour we all adopt because of these eyes watching us.
How many times have you seen examples of drivers slamming the brakes on as they approach a speed camera, only to speed back up once they’re out of the eye line of the lens?
Every day there are examples where we all push the boundaries of what is allowed or acceptable. The problems that the cameras are there to reduce evolve and move in new directions. So what happens when you break the rules and win?
The rules mark out the field of play for us all. We all have to exist within this framework to allow the society as a whole to flourish, each of us doing our bit to make sure that the whole is preserved. In the most basic sense, the strong take on more burden and the weak are assisted, while everyone else in the middle does they’re fair share.
But we all know the darkness inherent in the system, in any number of stories we’re familiar with and out there in the real world. Corruption so outcomes no longer show equity. Where parts of a population are seen as special and others are not. The first person to nudge beyond and colour outside the lines without there being any negative outcomes, was the first person who understood that cheats do prosper.
If you cheat and get caught, you are a cheat or a criminal, viewed poorly for cheating. If you cheat and no one sees it, your success is seen as being the result of shrewd thinking, clever actions.
So you cheat again.
The protagonist in stories is readily seen as being the righteous one, the one who is honest and true, but the antagonist is so easily the moustache twirling, black hearted monster with nothing but the worst planned.
So why cheat if it dooms you to ‘the dark side’?
It’s too simple to just paint people as good or bad. Everyone who cheated and won saw this as showing that they were smart enough to get around the system. Captain Kirk had his Kobayashi Maru and was commended for it. We see on football / soccer pitches all over the world, examples of players feigning injury, or simulating fouls to gain advantage and very often, those who are commentating laud them for it.
“He was very clever there, allowing himself to be knocked off the ball like that.”
Gone are the full blooded contests where physical contact was part and parcel of the game only to leave behind players willing to roll on the floor as if they’d been hit by a sniper in the stands at the merest hint of a challenge for the ball. All those eyes watching on see this as being the way to advance, the way to succeed. If you do this when you play, you’ll get a positive outcome as well, the knowing wink says as the benefits are reaped.
In a round about way, I’m looking at the importance of the role model. That person we watch and admire for what they do. They become our heroes very easily and carry the mantle of example wherever they go. We’ve all had one in our lives. It may have been a parent, a sibling, a famous sports star, even a politician, but we all looked at that person with an almost reverential awe. They were the best. They were what we wanted to be like. We yearned to be just like them and we did what we could to reach that goal.
Worryingly, what would happen if the role model was a bad guy?
Would the effect be to create hoardes of little beasts?
I doubt it but it’s important that we all recognise that we could, in some way, represent the role model for another and make sure we’re doing the best we can. There will always be eyes watching and teaching a poor message could have long term consequences.
I watched a kids game of football / soccer yesterday while I sat in a café waiting for Jo. It looked like a bunch of under elevens. Ish. They were passing and dribbling for all they were worth and there were good challenges going in for the tackles, all in all, making me feel oddly encouraged.
And then it happened.
A player from one team dribbled forwards, a little way out from goal, and was surrounded by three players from the opposition. In a flash, his space was gone and he was out of passing options. He couldn’t shoot and there appeared to be no way out. Until the first foot from an opposing player approached the ball. The attacking player saw his chance and performed a reasonable attempt of the flourishing swan dive we see all too regularly on TV. The surrounding lads checked for a split second, not really sure of themselves, and the referee blew for the foul.
I didn’t really see any contact but it could only have been minimal, yet he’d been given the free kick, getting him out of trouble. He hadn’t been knocked to the ground, he’d just collapsed, yet he’d gained an advantage. He was also the one to score from the resulting free kick.
Cheats never prosper is a lie but we all have to do our part to stand up as the role models people may see us as to make sure that the idea of going outside the rules doesn’t come into play but if you do, you aren’t congratulated for it.