In The Guardian, John Naughton worries over “public indifference” to Mr Snowden’s NSA revelations.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the public response to Edward Snowden‘s revelations about the scale of governmental surveillance is how little public disquiet there appears to be about it.
He explains this lack of a response in two ways. First, he attributes it to the public’s “ignorance” about the workings of the internet and mobile technology. Second, he points a finger at the media, noting the “visceral hatred directed towards WikiLeaks by the mainstream media in both this country and the US.” In this narrative, the public is a victim of both its own deficiencies and journalists who serve as “unpaid stenographers to the security services and their political masters.”
Yet, another explanation exists if one looks more closely as the structural condition of “privacy” itself which, in a Facebook world, is a quaint idea. The public may be indifferent to Snowden’s righteous campaign because, in the age of Facebook, the line between public and private has been blurred. In the ubiquitous culture of celebrity — which makes Facebook possible — private vice is received as a public virtue and, therefore, should be publicized. Moreover, the revelation of “dirty secrets” sells: there’s no better example of this than The Guardian’s episodic promotion of this “scandal,” which serves the economic function of clickbait.
Addendum: Everything about Mr Snowden (his whistle-blowing and his hideaway in the Russian tundra) is click bait for The Guardian, which, care of the entrepreneurial Glenn Greenwald and his information mule partner, has incorporated the time-release scandal in its business model. The slow dribble of “revelations” is no doubt planned in order to achieve the maximum sustained interest. The Guardian’s editor (Alan Rusbridger) learned from his partnership with Assange in the massive Wikileaks infodump — coordinated by The Guardian, the NY Times, El Pais, Der Spiegel, and Le Monde — that releasing leaked information all at once leads to its almost immediate obsolescence in the news cycle. Articles like Naughton’s, which seek to drum up outrage over the apparent lack of public outrage over these terrible revelations, which only confirms Adorno’s worst fears about the culture industry; in this case, its “administered dissent.”