Dear UK Border…

I’ve come to this land full of optimism and hope. I’ve never felt more out of place in my life—the fact that I don’t “belong” to this country feels like I am always being watched by your citizens. I always took this for granted back in Singapore; the fact that I could feel so comfortable and at home in a certain place.

It is a worthy exercise to undertake and experience, because I cannot stay put in wherever I feel comfortable. To venture out, broaden horizons, and to feel what it is like to be completely alone yet surrounded by so many people is important in life.

Foucault brings forth the notion that through modernisation, we have developed as a society, but questions whether we have taken the same strides morally. Power has shifted from top-down Sovereign oppression and control to a more distributed disciplinary approach to power, where he claims “the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary”. What he means by this is that power, through its beholder being the people, exerts itself in an omnipresent fashion as a constant reminder that you are being watched and that you face the scrutiny of everyone around you.

The concept of the Panopticon portrays Foucault’s idea that visibility is a trap, because the moment you believe you are being watched, you are conditioned to behave in a certain way or face punishment. This concept can be seen in many other facets of daily life.

CCTVs are in constant operation, but do we see these cameras? Do we know they are working? Is anyone on the other end actually surveilling us? The simple presence of a CCTV camera is enough to convince us that someone is observing our behaviour. In response, we are conditioned to behave in a way that we deem is acceptable, a way that would incite the least scrutiny.

Background: We were tasked with addressing a letter to anyone and write about the lecture on Surveillance.

Epigraph of Olly’s letter he wrote to the Daily Mail:

Olly criticises the Daily Mail for exploiting their power, agency and influence to perpetuate harmful views of immigrants in cosmopolitan London.


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