The American society treads lightly on the thin ice of popularity. Seemingly, everyone must do what is considered “cool” to fit in, do what is “right” to be good, and so forth. Why? The answer may be the Panoptic system that has and is continually evolving, this sort of Big Brother Always Watching concept. When standing in line at the grocery store, we don’t eat the candy in line. In school, we don’t cheat off of our neighbor. No one is standing there to tell you not to, no one is there to discipline you (in theory) yet we, for the most part, do what is right. We fear the discipline, avoid confrontation, and fall in line with the masses to repeat the monotonous pattern of good behavior. Constantly watching over your shoulder, similar to the “The Plan of the Panopticon” in Focault’s Panopticism, we behave as if being watched all of the time by the unseen eye of what is commonly referred to as the Enforcer. The Enforcer is the one whom we all fear, hence why we behave all so accordingly. The circular setting, in this case the jail, enables the Enforcer to see all happenings by the inmates.
There is a watch tower in the center of this circle, with hidden entrances and exits to allow for secretive Enforcer changes-or is there really a person in there at all? With no possible means to view this said change, how can the inmates be sure that there is even an Enforcer in the watch tower at all times? How can they be sure that there is ever an Enforcer, that he even exists? It is because of this doubt that we all, not just the inmates, incessantly behave as if being watched.
This never-ending cycle of watch and being watched is part of, I think, this concept of empty conformity. This can be related to religious beliefs, morals, other deeply rooted ideals, and as far-outreaching as simply outlandish societal stereotypes and occurrences. As a society, we often feel the peer-pressure to conform and do as others do. It is when a person does in fact conform to, whatever it may be, it that they do so emptily. It is a simple action of doing, rather than wanting and believing. This false sense of action turns us all into mindless, what I consider robots. We are quite nearly on autopilot, doing the repeated action of our everyday lives. Automated responses are cold and heartless, just like the jail scenario, bringing the concept of Panopticism full circle.
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