Is Digital Media the New Panopticon?

Foucault describe this idea of the Panopticon as being a tower that oversees surrounding cells, and in those cells are individuals who can’t see outside of the cell or into the cell next to them. Therefore, it seems as though that the individual is trapped. They are under constant surveillance and are permanently visible to the world. According to Foucault, the structure of the Panopticon controls an individual more than the person physically sitting in the center tower. Being as though this model represents how individuals in society today are constantly being watched, and the Panopticon is said to control an individual more than the person in the tower, I heard this and immediately thought of two things: social media and electronics in general.

Social media, as everyone knows, is something that is seen EVERYWHERE in society today. Everyone is constantly checking Instagram, checking Facebook, and even checking Snapchat while walking to class, sitting in traffic, or even while in the presence of other people. Being as though the internet is very prevalent in society today, everyone is constantly being watched if not through a physical way (i.e. a security camera) but the things being posted online are constantly monitored.

Social media cannot exist, however, without electronics. Electronics, being everything from a television to a cell phone, like social media are found throughout all of society today. Majority of members of society are constantly glued to their phones (as my boyfriend currently sits next to me on his phone). As Foucault would generally say, “the Panopticon controls an individual” and in this case, electronics are the Panopticon. Foucault was definitely ahead of his time, and many of his ideas can be applied to things that occur within society today.


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