Cameras are everywhere. Not just security cams, but fan cams at ballparks and, of course, video cams on phones. And they are changing how we live our lives and what we can expect to remain private. Ask Mitt Romney. He'll tell you that you can expect privacy 47 percent of the time.
The modern panopticon is a mesh of cameras, publicly and privately owned; some constantly on and some turned on episodically. As with Bentham's original panopticon conception, the possibility that we are potentially under surveillance at any time increases the likelihood that we police our own activities, staying "in line." But given the behavior of the gentleman in the fan-cam video (above) or terrorists in Paris, Boston and elsewhere, it is clear that not everyone is being governed effectively by constant panoptic surveillance. Many of us still act like we still have the privacy we historically expect, though it is likely those expectations will change as awareness catches up to the reality of cameras everywhere.
Consider Mitt Romney as he launches into his third presidential run. We have to expect that he will be far more cognizant of the potential presence of cameras. Perhaps he will forbid cellphones at his private events. One thing we see is that Romney is already talking about income inequality, trying to deflect the obvious criticism he will get building off his last "caught on tape" moment.
One key implication of the "cameras everywhere" phenomenon is that politicians are under greater pressure to be authentic. The less scripted they are, the safer they are from implosion. Voters see so much more of their candidates today than ever before, good and bad. And, as we all know, they inevitably commit gaffes; and these days, they commit them on hidden cameras. The less scripted they are, the more likely voters will cut them some slack if they slip. Those that continue to be heavily scripted will get a heavier backlash from voters when they commit their gaffes-at least from 47 percent of the voters.
The modern panopticon gives new meaning to the phrase, "All the world's a stage." So the next time you are out in public, keep an eye out for cameras and be sure not to embarrass yourself. You may want to run for office someday.