Writers are important. Facts or fiction — they are supposed to give us new insights, push boundaries and question those in power.
So it’s quite alarming that one in six US writers has “avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance”. Another one in six has seriously considered doing so.
Literature defines our society. And now mass surveillance is defining literature.
We will never know what books, pieces and reviews that never got written because of Big Brotherism. Or what speeches that never were given. But we do know that this will make humanity and society intellectually poorer.
And it’s not just here and now. Culture is a process where you often build on earlier works and insights. Self-censorship will multiply its effects over time.
Mass surveillance has an undeniable chilling effect on a free and open society.