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Scare-People

In my apartment’s laundry, there is what appears to be a security camera (it might be fake). Someone has placed a crumpled sticker over the plastic sheathed lens. It has been like this for months, and nobody has ever removed it (it’s not even fastened securely or elegantly, it would take half a minute to remove).

Security footage generated by the myriad surveillance devices in our world, depending on length of storage, is great for after the fact’ deduction. But for the majority the security camera, is at almost every moment a scare-person’ — a signifier that someone, somewhere is watching and if something goes wrong help’ or force’ will be summoned. Of course, someone is rarely watching and so help (or hindrance depending on what you’re trying to do) is rarely on its way.

The world is littered with these scare-people’ only slightly more elegant than the farmer’s old clothes stuffed with straw to shy away hungry birds. They work insofar as they help people feel safe or corralled, and the only enforcement is a roulette wheel like gambling mechanic that makes these work; 9/10, 99/100 there is nothing behind the glamour of force save for that odd time where security would be summoned.

Does the door really start an alarm if it’s opened? (I find this actually rare, much like my hypervigilant smoke alarm I think a lot of these things get disabled rather quickly due to the frustration of false positives). Does the unknown company have a case and money for legal fees behind the cease and desist letter? Are there human eyes staring at a screen linked to the video camera? What happens when you venture past?

It’s an interesting game I play from time to time, to look around and figure out where the scare-people abound and how they tilt my behavior this way or that. I think it’s even more interesting when the scare-people are placed not to encourage lawful behavior, but done in such a way to shoo away the hoi polloi away from exercising their rights/claiming what belongs to them (mostly by the myriad attempts to in some way privatize what is public space).

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