Panopticism is a system in which the belief that we are being watched forces us to behave “properly”. Foucault’s idea of panopticism is to basically ensue fear into a person by having them be visible so in return, the person will subconsciously feel watched and thus, be on good behavior.

In today’s society, the topic of surveillance intersects with the topic of panopticism. The idea that someone may or may not be watching us keeps us in check, and adheres to society’s standards and norms. This is the same idea as to why parents tell their kids Santa or other fictional characters are real. It is so, while the kids are away from the parent’s eyes, they believe someone else is watching them, which enables the kids to stay on their best behavior. To relate this example to adults, this is the same reason and concept as to why stores put up signs saying “Smile You Are On Camera.” While everyone assumes that there are working cameras in stores, the ‘in-the-face’ reminder is what store owners are counting on for customers to be truthful. This is the truth for many people. Unless someone is watching them, they won’t do the act of “good” or what is socially known as “good”. These ‘beliefs’ of surveillance may be our good subconscious enabling us to do good or may be our subconscious ensuring we don’t get in trouble. Either way it keeps people in check, but also makes for secretive people, who away from the eyes of people won’t act the same.

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