I find out first from my phone. That’s how it is these days: a notification, a buzz and a red circle in the corner of an app. My pocket vibrates, and when I check it, there is a message from a friend, panicked.
“I hope you’re okay. Let me know you’re safe!”
I can deduce from the message that something is happening, but I have no idea what. Gas leak, train crash, terrorism, Black Friday-related atrocity, I don’t know.
It’s as if we’re joining everything in medias res, like a postmodern film.
It is a peculiar ailment of the modern…
Eleven years ago, a giant mural appeared in Newman Street, central London, of a boy in a red jacket painting the slogan, “One Nation Under CCTV” in stark white capitals. His actions are filmed by a painted policeman next to a barking dog. Right above the mural was a real live CCTV security camera.
The mural was removed promptly by Westminster City Council, who ruled it was “an unlicensed commercial,” but its point resonated. Estimates vary, but when it was created by the elusive graffiti artist and social critic Banksy in 2008, there were something like four million surveillance cameras…