Michel Foucault’s Panopticism and Social Media

Published: 2021-08-29 01:40:10
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The book, Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault takes a stand about panopticon, which is a prison system that is aimed at having people being restricted on movement, as a way of imparting discipline. The Panopticon has the watchtower at the center, where people are observed on how they operate. The prisoners cannot move, neither can they have a good observation of who is seeing them. The crowd cannot have the view of the prisoners. Foucault is keen on showing a measure that is taken to have a disciplined society.
The idea of panopticism is aimed at controlling human beings and enhancing discipline. Even though the panopticon is aimed at having a control of behavior and enhancement of discipline, it is not possible to escape the panopticon that has been extended digitally into the modern world since there is morality as a mirror through where one sees himself or herself, and aspects of identity formation that have been created by the society as a surveillance for human behavior. One cannot escape from such since morality is a form of surveillance, with a proper view from every side.
The idea of Panopticism it is a presentation where power operates more effectively, and economically. It is a model that shows how discipline can be in the world without the need of a prince. It is akin to a laboratory for power. The panopticon is a good model for a prison system, and a way to guide morality. The panopticon is a model that is used to create a sense of normalcy in the lives of people, and they try to live well, and as per the required standards since everyone thinks that they are being watched. The society is analogous to the unseen guard, and molarity sets in making people have good behavior and normalcy in how they interact with other even through the social media. Therefore, the panopticon in the modern world is not necessarily a building, but there is more to it, especially when it comes to social media networks.
Social media networks have given people an allowance to behave in unethical ways, which is why one may post whatever they need in the network. This is the freedom that is provided to people, and some are not worried, as there is a tendency to think that they are not seen. However, the idea of Panopticism sets in when one thinks that they are being watched, by either friends or their kin. That sets standards of responsibility, where people are then inclined to behave well in such platforms, even if there is liberty for one to do as they wish. It is not possible for one to post whatever they want to on a Facebook account since they know that there are people who may know them, and can be critical to such issues.
Even with hidden identity, one is made to behave responsibly since they know that other powers help in regulating the use of social media. Therefore, they cannot post whatever they do, as they fear being blamed for whatever they do and post. There are laws that help in curbing cyberbullying and deformation of character which is why people are keen on what they say about others, as well as what they post, as they are in constant fear. For others, there is no need for such laws, as their psychological disposition and conscience guides them on what to post, and what to say .It is in this regard that they remain vigil, and interact with others responsibly. This is similar to the working of the panopticon.
It is hard to escape from the panopticon that is digitally extended. Social media has acted as an aspect that eats into the lives of people, killing freedom and lack of personal identity. It is from the panopticon that has been created online that people escape real life, and hide from the true nature and reality, which is in a big way, some form of imprisonment. According to Bissegger, “You’re required to define yourself to be involved: Build a Facebook page and Twitter account and post your thoughts and show the world who you are.
But what if that’s inaccurate? What if we are all purporting to be something we’re not? Yes, we are certainly in an identity crisis” (qtd in Lowry).people are forced to be what they are not, as they know that the society is watching. They would like to be in line with the paradigms that have been created by the social media and the world, which is why they end up lying about their real self. Haniake makes this even clearer, stating that “I can’t just be myself where and when I want because anything I do has the potential to end up on some site somewhere where anyone can look at it and judge.
I feel like I need to water down who I am.” (qtd in Lowry) The illustration shows that one cannot escape the digitally designed panopticon since people would like to appear as per the definitions and paradigms that have been created by the social media. This is the only way that they feel not being out of place. However, this leads to an identity crisis, and one cannot escape from it.
In conclusion, the above illustrations are a proof that even though the panopticon is aimed at having a control of behavior and enhancement of discipline, it is not possible to escape the panopticon that has been extended digitally into the modern world since there is morality as a mirror through where one sees himself or herself, and aspects of identity formation that have been created by the society as a surveillance for human behavior. Social media defines how people behave and even makes them behave in a way that is not natural, leading to an identity crisis. Therefore, it is not hard to escape the panopticon that has been created by the social media. One thinks they are being watched by the society, having restrictions by the law and conscience, which guides behavior.People, will always be mindful of what others say, which is why they tend to hide their identity especially in social media.
Works Cited

Boyd, Danah. ‘Implications of User Choice: The Cultural Logic of’ Myspace or Facebook?’.’ Interactions 16.6 (2009): 33
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison. Vintage, 2012.
Lowry, Rachel. ‘Straddling Online and Offline Profiles, Millennials Search for Identity.’ DeseretNews.com, 2 June 2013, www.deseretnews.com/article/865581034/Straddling-online-and-offline-profiles-millennials-search-for-identity.html  

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