When reading Little Brother, the passage that really stuck out to me was after Marcus’s kidnapping when he initially realized he was being bugged. The combination of paranoia, fear, and anger surrounding Marcus’s every thought became evident as he emotionally responded to the Department of Homeland Security watching his every move. He cautiously approached the seriousness of his situation, stating that “There were eyes out there, eyes and ears, and they were watching me. Surveilling me.” (Doctorow 86)
I was drawn to this passage because I had a similar reaction when the Edward Snowden leak occurred. Although I obviously have different circumstances than Marcus and have nothing to hide whatsoever, I still felt as if my privacy had been unrightfully invaded. Knowing that the government was capable of surveying my daily activities through my browser history, phone calls, text messages, and more gave me an uncertainty about if anything I ever did was truly private.
And as an ordinary, completely harmless citizen, I mostly viewed this process as unnecessary. The United States government has nothing to gain by monitoring my online activity, as all they will discover is the unhealthy amount of time I spend on Facebook, my ability to watch countless Grey’s Anatomy episodes on Netflix, and my slight obsession with Taylor Swift music videos.
Still, I view my browser history as mine, as it is a reflection of my day-to-day thoughts. Googling whatever comes to my mind has become a kind of second nature to me and looking at what I’ve searched will quickly reveal my favorite TV shows, places to online shop, and which classes I’m taking. At times, particularly when ads directed at me from my past search history show up, I think the Internet knows me better than I know myself. And do I want the United States government to know me on this same, personal level? Definitely not. My online activity is arguably one of the closest things to a diary that I have, and while I understand the goal of finding potential terrorists through data mining, I can’t help but feel the same paranoid, taken-aback emotions Marcus did when he was bugged.