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FBI memes prove as a viable coping mechanism in monitored society

Saarim Damani

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When you are on your laptops, do you feel as if someone might be watching you cry over a heartbreaking movie or fawn over a cat video? Does this fear make you feel that your privacy might have been compromised? Well, we have found a different way to deal with this fear and it is through memes. Since 2016, FBI memes have taken over the internet, appearing on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook repeatedly. These memes are based on an idea that every person has been assigned a personal FBI agent who is watching their every action through their webcam.

There have been certain acts such as UK’s Snooper’s Charter, which has compromised our privacy by giving the government mass digital surveillance powers, such as browsing our history or reading our text messages and, also, increasing the feeling of being observed through social media.

The feeling of being observed in the privacy of our lives has been the overwhelming reason behind these FBI memes. These FBI agents have appeared on Twitter recently regarding some current events such as Kylie’s pregnancy.

I believe FBI memes are an effective coping mechanism from the fear of being under supervision at all times. Coping mechanisms are activities that we tend to use as a distraction; a support that we lean on as a way of avoiding fears and anxieties. These activities are not the true choices that we make, rather, they are our unconscious habits that are preventing us from dealing directly with our fears and, therefore, they can often be harmful to our wellbeing.

I do not think that FBI memes are harmful, but they are certainly distracting because knowing our privacy is at stake and that we cannot do much about it makes one feel helpless and hence, more fearful. These memes somehow make me more aware by constantly reminding me about being watched so I am always on the alert of keeping my webcam taped.

However, do you really think that an FBI agent will sit all day watching a person through their webcam? A cyber security fellow at New America, Tarah Wheeler, says that “the FBI would likely need a warrant to watch you via your own webcam, and by the time the FBI has a warrant to surveil you, your webcam isn’t your problem anymore.” Hence, if someone is really watching you through your webcam, then it might not be the FBI agent but, it can be anyone else. Wheeler says that it is better to protect your personal data rather than worry about your webcam.

Rather than panicking we can take a few steps to ensure our privacy; taping your webcam is a smart option but one should also not forget to keep a backup of all your personal data, turn on a firewall, never click on strange links received from strangers and use stronger passwords. As our world is becoming more digitized we are running a risk of sharing more of our personal information on social media, thus, somehow compromising our privacy ourselves. 

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FBI memes prove as a viable coping mechanism in monitored society