A Reprieve from the Panopticon: Spaces without Introspection

By Craig Messner.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper will investigate the existence of spaces on the internet which allow their users to utilize “counter-technologies” such as TOR, a proxy service, in order to break the dyad of vision in the social panopticon and release themselves, if briefly and incompletely, from the gaze of society. If certain “counter-technologies”, such as TOR, are utilized correctly, users can join communities of similarly freed individuals on anonymous internet forums such as 4chan. These forums act as mediated spaces; the users must be connected to panoptic society somewhere, through a credit card or an ISP subscription, yet the “counter-technology” utilized keeps their subjugated body from being connected with their internet presence. The pseudo-freedom this creates leads to behavior beyond the pale of normal society; without self-introspection, activities such as posting seizure inducing images on a forum for epileptics becomes normal behavior. Actions of users on the 4chan forums, as well as the thought of Foucault, will be investigated in order to attempt an answer to a few key questions: Can there be true reprieve from panoptic society? What does this reprieve entail? And, ultimately, is the panoptic society, and the self-introspection it fosters, the only thing keeping humanity sane?

Keywords: Panopticon, Foucault, Internet, Technology

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp.117-124. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 592.254KB).

Craig Messner

Student, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA

I am an undergraduate student in English attending the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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