Of bedrooms and Big Brother

Younger Americans trust the government more than their families.

01 August 2023

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In the opening scenes of 1984, we’re told how children have been trained to willingly and helpfully spy on their own families and tell authorities if their parents breach any of the many totalitarian laws of the state. We are also told how government surveillance is present in every home. Big Brother is always watching. Privacy is a relic of the bad old past.

Like most prophecies, the novel was meant to be a warning, not a blueprint to the future. Now, research from the Cato Institute think tank suggests that this scenario is not only likely, but desirable to many young people, in the United States at least. The institute’s 2023 Central Bank Digital Currency National Survey found that 29% of respondents under the age of 30 would favour the government “installing surveillance cameras in every household to reduce domestic violence, abuse, and other illegal activity”. (For the record, for the rest of the somewhat older population, “only” 14% supported the idea.)

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