Ocean City Today

Big Brother in China

The Public Eye
By Stewart Dobson | Apr 26, 2018



printed 04/27/2018


Let’s  begin with a sing-along to the tune of a real oldie:


Nothing could be finer

than to be surveilled in

China in the morning.

Nothing could be sweeter

than a camera spy repeater in the morning.

They send my every action to bosses I abhor,

and grade my social status as I walk from

door to door.

Smiling at the lenses that transmit to their

credenzas in the morning.


As I may have mentioned before, I don’t like camera surveillance by government or anyone else, even though my friends tell me repeatedly, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

They also say, along with the people who operate such cameras, “But they help identify criminals after they commit a crime.”

“After” is the operative word to my way of thinking. It’s like being told after delivering the keynote address at the Pocomoke Bass Roundup banquet (which I really did a bunch of years ago)  that my  fly was down the entire time (also true).

Well, thanks for that helpful information.

It isn’t that I am opposed to rounding up miscreants, especially if one were to take my wallet (sure, go out and get yourself something nice with that pair of singles) but I would prefer catching my assailant before he dribbles me up and down the sidewalk and launches me with a high-arcing shot into the dumpster for a three-pointer.

In my mind, before is always better than after.

“Excuse me, sir, but before you give your keynote address, you better check the barn door,” is superior to, “Excuse me, but you had us a little scared when you began to make jokes about the best bait.”

Besides, what’s happening in China with cameras these days is enough to make everything shrink from sight.

What’s it’s doing with its 100 million or so cameras and facial recognition software is tracking the social behavior of almost everyone and assigning each person a score that will determine how he or she is treated by government.

It’s all based on standards of behavior set by the ruling class. Really.

As The Atlantic magazine wrote in February, “Every Chinese citizen receives a … numeric index of their trustworthiness and virtue. In principle, anyway, this one number will determine the opportunities citizens are offered, the freedoms they enjoy, and the privileges they are granted.”


In other words, you spit, smoke in a nonsmoking area, go to this place when you should have gone to that place and bang: no house for you.


“But all I did was take more than my nine allotted sheets of bathroom tissue.”

“Too bad, because you’re really in the outhouse now, pal.”

I know we’re a long way from that happening here, but it doesn’t mean it couldn’t, as we’re monitoring more and more every day.

For the time being, anyway, I’m thankful that we’ve gone only so far with this surveillance business. Otherwise, I’d have been in trouble long ago.

“About that wardrobe problem: no house for you.”

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