Big Brother is always watching


By Fraser Bryce


Readers, allow me to tell you a tale of a person just like you. We’ll call him Geoff. One sunny day, Geoff was walking down the street, happy as can be, listening to his iPod. Then, out of the blue, came a familiar ping. Geoff gulped. A notification. An acquaintance of his had a big part in a play in some godforsaken location, and wanted him to attend.

Upon closer inspection, it cost more than £10, so Geoff decided to pretend he never saw it and move on with his life. But it was not over. Later that same day, another notification. Geoff’s heart sank. The skies darkened. A dog howled in the distance. A message had arrived. The person playing Orphan ‘4’ in the Bo’Ness production of ‘Oliver!’ was asking why Geoff had not replied to the event. Geoff sank to his knees, screaming damnation to the sky. Gone were the days of ignoring Facebook events he didn’t care about, all thanks to Zuckerberg’s tool of evil: the ‘Seen By’ notification.

In what Orwellian nightmare did our tale take place? In what kind of dystopian Hell was Geoff’s activity being monitored by a faceless organisation? Why, dear readers, it takes place in our OWN REALITY (DUN, DUN, DUUUUUN).

In case you didn’t guess by that rather ham fisted Twilight Zone rip off, Facebook have introduced one of those accursed things that shows others when you see things for their events. Blast. I can never log into Facebook again, because people will know I’m ignoring their invites to SNP rallies and dance recitals. Now, this follows the same blasted tool in the Facebook messenger, which has been the bane of my existence from the moment Satan himself included it in one of the updates. There’s even the location services that pinpoint your exact location whenever you Tweet or post something to Facebook. Turns out George Orwell was right. We are being watched.

But instead of being watched by an evil, faceless organisation that silences its dissenters, we’re being watched by an evil, faceless organisation that allows you to have a virtual farm. Facebook is rapidly turning into Big Brother but instead of locking you in a room where your deepest fears are realised it locks you in a digital nightmare where your only company is some clickbait articles, videos of animals and your friend from primary school’s racist views.

It can’t be said that the ‘seen by’ feature is pure evil as it does help point out the people you know that are purposefully ignoring you as well as showing that the one friend who is always busy is actually sitting on their arse reading through your Facebook conversations. But, it makes saying ‘no’ a shite-mare of epic proportions. Back in the good ol’ days, if you didn’t show up to something it was assumed that you missed the invite.

Now, all it takes is a few taps of the finger to show that you knew damn well that you had something on but chose to ignore the invite’s existence. Example: I know someone who’s rather dreadful at this sort of thing. Let’s call him Borbus – and one of his trademarks is being invited somewhere, be it a gig, football match or ritualistic sacrifice, and not answering immediately. Instead, he replies two days later and says “sorry, I’ve only just seen this.” Now, we can call him on his bullshit because while he claims that he hasn’t seen the message, the little bit that says “seen two days ago” – or, in the case of Facebook, a tiny version of his face – is a real giveaway. It’s great for us, because we can pester him, knowing full well that he’s reading the conversation and will eventually succumb following a messaging tactic that can only be described as ‘shock and awe’. But, alas, poor Borbus. Now, instead of pretending that he has a hectic social life that has resulted in our invite being overlooked, he has to think up a poor, thinly veiled excuse.

And don’t deny it, we’ve all done it. We’ve all ‘done a Borbus’ and ignored an invite or message every now and again. But now, we can’t. So, what’s next?

Will people see who has looked at their loathsome photos of their family trip to Scunthorpe? Will we be notified whenever someone has went to answer their phone, looked at the caller ID, and set it back down? Will a massive floating sign saying ‘seen by blah blah at blah past blah’ appear whenever they pretend not to hear your dreadful jokes?

Granted, that last one is a bit far fetched, but the point still stands: Facebook are removing our ability to say no, one feature at a time, and while it’s more “mildly irritating” than Orwellian hell, it’s only a matter of time before Facebook starts ending friendships because it reveals what a dreadful shitebag you truly are. Maybe that’s just me, mind you…


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