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Robin Writes: Small Town Surveillance

Posted on Wednesday, August 31, 2022 at 6:28 am

By Robin Garrison Leach

Worried about the hidden cameras that monitor parking lots, airport terminals and shopping malls? Outraged at the loss of your privacy? Your anonymity? Your ability to skulk through life undetected?

Well, get over it.

I grew up in a small town. My every movement has been recorded since the day of my birth. Yes, it was intrusive. Yes, I sometimes hated it. But there was no better deterrent to unacceptable behavior than to know that your neighbors were keeping their eyes on you, and that the mouths below those eyes were ready to report your actions in stark detail to whomever would listen.

Being watched is a fact of life in a small town. It is part of the price paid for living where every house has a front porch and a picture window. Maybe the time-honored tradition of neighbor-watching stems from the boredom of living where the biggest news is last Sunday’s sermon.

Where family surnames are as familiar as math times tables and the lineage is as easy to recite.

Maybe the simple, somewhat bland fare of our daily existence demanded daily pinches of spicy news for tongue-tingling satisfaction.

The recordings of your actions in a small town are never erased or destroyed. They are available to be rewound and replayed at the mention of your name. The tape may jitter a bit, or be revised by once-removed editors, but it was still considered gospel.

Your past is public knowledge, and nobody forgets your face.

For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard