Nowhere to Hide
By Paul Proctor, July 22, 2008
I’ll never forget the day I downloaded the
very popular Google
Earth software onto my home computer and found stunningly clear and
close-up aerial photographs of significant places from my past – and a few
from the present. It was absolutely breathtaking to go from a satellite
view of the entire planet, as if staring at it from the surface of the
moon, down to an overhead view of the old house where I grew up.
But my feelings of fascination turned a
little creepy when I clicked on the Google Earth feature called “Street
View” and suddenly saw that old corner house from the very road that ran
alongside it. And I was shocked to discover that I could easily navigate a
360-degree view of my old neighborhood with nothing more than a cursor and
a click. In fact, to see this, you don’t have to download any software,
just go to the website Google Maps and type in your address. Then
click on “Street View.”
Here I was, hundreds of miles away from
the old home place, sitting behind my desk in Tennessee, gazing into a
computer screen at the collapsing metal fence along which many of my now
deceased mother’s rose bushes used to grow back in Texas – and the front
porch where I used to sit beneath the shade of a big Silver Leaf Maple and
watch the cars go by. And, there in the front yard was another tree where
a bench-swing used to hang that I put up myself. With a few more clicks, I
could effortlessly move up or down the street either way and view three
sides of that old rundown residence and yard – each click inciting another
poignant memory and all the emotions that accompany a sentimental journey.
After that I found the little house and
yard my family lived in the first four years of my life. That place is so
old it was abandoned and dilapidated by the time I was a teenager. Yet,
there it was, over a half-century later, on my computer screen, renovated
and occupied once again. It was like being in a time machine! I also
found, of all things, the cemetery where my parents are buried and could
even make out the small headstones marking their graves from the satellite
It seems our conspiratorial fears of a
coming surveillance society have been all but realized. It’s finally here,
isn’t it? Though the terrifying real-time surveillance displayed in Will
Smith’s 1998 film, Enemy of the State, looked cutting edge 10 years
ago, I’m sure, by today’s top-secret standards, it’s old school. I would
think the technological wonders demonstrated in that movie had to have
been obsolete back when it was filmed or it would never have made it to
the big screen for public consumption and scrutiny. Even so, the age old
rumor of military satellites being able to read a car’s license plate from
a satellite in space always seemed a little far-fetched to me.
If I can sit here with my laptop and look
at the satellite image of a family headstone on the World Wide Web, Lord
only knows what government agencies can see and hear with their high tech
gear. I suppose if the public at large was privy to their latest greatest
technology we might all be looking for caves to hide in like Osama bin
Laden, just for a little privacy.
With cameras now hanging over every street
corner and parking lot – over every highway, byway, hallway and aisle way
– and in every gas station, grocery store, shopping mall, office complex,
government building, restaurant and recreational area we visit, it would
seem the only way to escape someone’s watchful eye is to move out into the
wilderness where there are no paved roads, automobiles, bicycles,
pedestrians or surveillance cameras.
But, unfortunately, “the middle of
nowhere” no longer exists.
You see, in my Google Earth search for
memorable places from my past, I found, out in the middle of nowhere,
a little trailer my dad bought back in the 60s that he had moved to a
wooded hillside overlooking a pond on a friend’s 8000 acre ranch in west
Texas where we used to hunt and fish when I was a kid – a rather remote
place miles from the nearest farm-to-market road where, even to this day,
there are no telephone lines, no paved roads or even an address to receive
Some of my fondest memories are of
paddling around that dammed-up desert canyon in a flat bottom boat with a
fishing pole. The only sign of civilization out there was an occasional
airplane or satellite quietly passing overhead – just tiny specs in the
Now, many of those tiny specs are watching
and recording whatever they see – some of which is now viewable on our
very own TV and computer screens at home, as if to constantly remind us,
there’s nowhere left to hide.
Even if we were invisible to the camera’s
lens, we’re easily tracked, day or night by, among other things, our cell
phone transmissions, our debit and credit card purchases, our ATM
withdrawals, and our automobile’s integrated GPS systems – all old
technology. Even when you pay cash for something at a little convenience
store, your image is, more often than not, recorded along with the items
you purchased and the exact time you purchased them by a mounted security
camera overhead. The cameras outside the store record your vehicle,
license number, the precise time you arrived and left and everyone that
was with you.
Does all this post 911 technology make you
feel any safer or any freer for that matter?
In time, I guess we’ll all be able to
appreciate the frustration and torment celebrities go through running from
the paparazzi. Famous or not, anyone with a simple cell phone camera can
snap your picture or record a short video of you and post it on the
Internet for all the world to see. And when Google Earth’s “Street View”
traveling cameras finish photographing everything on the planet, someone
will end up with a very powerful tool at their disposal, won’t they?
If you believe that people are basically
good, Satan doesn’t exist and Peeping Sam has your best interest in mind,
then you probably see the future as bright and promising. If however, you
believe that man is basically sinful, “absolute power corrupts absolutely”
and things are going to get worse before they get better, then you’re more
than likely anticipating an arduous age ahead.
You see, there is indeed nowhere to hide.
In fact, there never has been – not from an omniscient, omnipotent and
omnipresent God. But, the Devil is none of these, though the scriptures
tell us he has aspired to be from the beginning – and may well be amassing
some superstructure of surveillance and control through the machinations
and machinery of men.
If the thought of this frightens you, just
remember: They may be watching you and me, but the Lord is watching us all
– and Judgment Day is coming.
“Neither is there any creature that is not
manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes
of him with whom we have to do.”
– Hebrews 4:14
China ready to export its BIG Brother surveillance system
Paul Proctor is a veteran of the
country music industry. He retired in the late 1990's to dedicate
himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly
biblical perspective. As a freelance writer, he extols the wisdom
and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural
trends and current events.
Volume 8, 2008