If the eyes are the windows to the soul, as they say, then smartphone cameras are the windows to the soul of our society.

In ages past we knew hardly anything about what was going on in a given civilization. Mythology about a population’s history were handed down around campfires in the form of verbal tradition from generation to generation. When the written word came around we invented something called “history”, which was really just records of the ancient propaganda from whoever happened to have won the most recent war. Then later on we got very clever and invented something called “journalism”, which was really just whatever stories the people who controlled the media wanted told.

None of these presentations were particularly conducive to understanding what’s actually happening in our society; they were all subject to manipulation by the dominant storytellers of whatever era they appeared in.

This began to change when video cameras started appearing in the pockets of ordinary people around the world, and an online network appeared which allowed them to share their recordings. Now if an interesting thing happens in a public space and takes more than a few seconds to transpire, odds are there will be video footage of it. You don’t need to wait for a news crew to assemble and drive to the scene; the news crew is there already, in the form of rank-and-file members of the public.

This newfound ability to open windows of video record to our fellow citizens so they can see what’s happening in our world has been very instructive. It has taught us that ordinary human beings are capable of more skillful, hilarious and jaw-dropping behaviors than we’d have ever guessed in our wildest imaginings. It has taught us that Bigfoot probably doesn’t exist, and that close encounters of the third kind are probably not happening as people used to commonly claim. And it has taught us that police brutality is every bit as common as marginalized communities have been telling us for generations.


All in all, it has helped show us what we are.

And what are we? We are funny. We are brilliant. We are beautiful. We are amazing. We are talented. We are heart-meltingly cute. We are dazzlingly insightful. We are capable of anything we put our minds to.

We are also suffering. We are also capable of appalling cruelty. We are also pretty damn racist. We are also patrolled by a violent and insanely militarized police institution whose driving interests have nothing to do with protecting or serving.

This newfound ability to view mountains of video footage showing us what’s happening in our world is enabling us as a species to get more real with ourselves on a collective level, in exactly the same way resurfaced memories of childhood trauma and insights into our own mental habits enable us to get real with ourselves on an individual level. In both cases, the added factor is awareness. Bringing awareness to something of which we previously were not aware.

You can’t change something you can’t see. This is true of your own behavior patterns when their underlying motivators are still hiding in your subconscious mind, and it is true of collective societal disorders as well. For both, seeing is the cure.

We are all trying to wake up together. To move away from untruth and toward truth. That is our collective journey, and we can see that it is accelerating. I don’t know what it will look like on the other side of our collective vision impairment, but as long as we keep moving toward seeing and away from blindness, it can only be a good thing.


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42 responses to “Smartphone Cameras Are The Windows Into Society’s Soul”

  1. It’s 100% true, I really like the way to express yourself and shared an amazing piece of content with us. However, smartphones can be used for good purposes as well like to learn coding, to create digital free avatars, and to educate and learn new things.


  2. It’s 100% true, I really like the way to express yourself and shared an amazing piece of content with us. However, smartphones can be used for good purposes as well like to learn coding, to create digital free avatars, and to educate and learn new things.

  3. I’ve been learning about the lost history on the demolition of thriving black communities in Tulsa, OK (Black Wall St), Rosewood, FL, Senaca Village in NYC (to make way for Central Park) and I’m sure many others.

    A healthy, thriving middle class is an endangered species in the world today. If we had more footage of the growing homeless communities, lonely deaths of the uninsured, debt-burdened college grads contemplating suicide, footage of boardroom decisions sure to further the chokehold on already financially stressed families, the riot profiteers that thrive on selling their gear in hopes of more unrest…

    It’s the private banking industry vs. governments. The US government surrendered to the banks over 40 years ago. China’s still holding out. There’s a juicy middle class there the banks and transnationals can’t wait to suck dry.

    If we tried to restore government to the way it was, it wouldn’t be “socialism”. It would be creating money for the benefit of the whole nation again, not just $10 trillion bailouts and trillion/yr defense budgets. We know it can be done. There is no alternative.

    “The more inequality in a society, the more hate, the more dysfunction, the more mental illness, the more physical illness.” It should come as no surprise, then, that we see more addiction and more mass shootings since “the inequality is rising all the time.” Violence against racial, ethnic, or religious groups “is a manifestation of a society that foments division amongst people and sets people against each other.”


  4. The phone camera may be the windows into society’s soul, but it is also the spoor leading the bloodhounds to your door.

    “A Twitter feed titled “Minnesota Contact Tracing” revealed how police are using contact tracing to identify and arrest protesters. “Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington says they’ve begun contact tracing arrestees.”


    I never cease to be amazed by the speed that a conversation can be hijacked; instead of commenting on the ‘windows of the soul’ per Caitlin, it’s racist murder, with not even the wit to talk about the high rate US police killings in general or the universal oppression that puts us in this situation.

  5. The Pierce Alonzo video is not working here in the UK this morning.

  6. R Zwarich ('Caliban') Avatar
    R Zwarich (‘Caliban’)

    Okey doke, then. I just got scolded by Mr. Newton Finn for examining the video evidence too closely. Looking at the actual evidence “under a microscope”, he said, (in somewhat insulting hyperbolic exaggeration, because I wanted to look at it at all), was “more divisive than MSM narratives”. (O … geez … lordie-lordie …sigh…)
    But now Ms. Johnstone extolls the virtues of the availability of video evidence. Oh good. Sounds promising.
    Wait … What? … We should celebrate that the new citizen video evidence is available, but we shouldn’t look at it too closely if it doesn’t fit our own narrative? All in the name of ‘truth’ itself? Uhh….I’m confused…
    Ms. Johnstone writes:
    “We are all trying to wake up together. To move away from untruth and toward truth. That is our collective journey, and we can see that it is accelerating. I don’t know what it will look like on the other side of our collective vision impairment, but as long as we keep moving toward seeing and away from blindness, it can only be a good thing.”
    I’ve tried to gently prod Ms. Johnstone to ‘see’ some things about herself. Reducing the most absurd ironies to their essence, and then pointing out the ironic contradictions, is her ‘style’. She has a brilliant talent for that. But her wisdom will expand exponentially if she can now ‘see’ that she is now ‘being’ the irony that needs a spotlight, rather than shining a spotlight on it.
    We ALL have 20/20 vision of the ‘other guy’. What’s hard, (impossible for many, perhaps most), is seeing ourselves. Self-awareness is the ONLY path that leads to wisdom.
    “Know the Enemy, and know thyself, and you need not fear the outcome of any battle”. (–paraphrased…attribution needed?)
    Few people on the Left even “know the Enemy”. What drew me to Ms. Johnstone was her brilliant ‘vision’ of the Enemy, and her skill in using language to illuminate her vision. She knows that Trump is AN enemy, but is not THE Enemy. She knows that Joe Biden is also AN enemy. She knows that holding an election in which the so-called ‘citizens’ are given a choice between their enemies, does not comprise true democracy. (Fools line up to vote, after those with the REAL power pick the candidates).

    “Know the Enemy”, saith ole Sun-Tzu. “Check!”, answers Ms. Johnstone.
    “Know thyself”, says ole Mr. -Tzu again, echoing ole Diogenes. What saith Ms. Johnstone?
    If she sees a man being “deliberately strangled to death” specifically because he is African American, in the citizen video of the George Floyd tragedy, she clearly does not know how subjectively her OWN ‘vision’ has itself been hindered by her self-bias. If she sees “deliberate murder” in the video of the man’s tragic death, she does not ‘know herself’. She does not see herself from perspectives other than her own. She’s not self-aware of her subjective bias.
    In military terms, (it was ‘The Art of War’, after all), she’s a sucker of a yokel buffoon walking into a trap that any competent general officer should have seen. Enflaming racial passions and animosities is EXACTLY-effing-ACTLY what our Enemy MOST wants us to do.
    Surely she knows that. Surely she knows the “divide and rule” thing.
    Why then does she think we should do EXACTLY-effing-ACTLY what our Enemy MOST wants us to do? Does she think it’s a good idea to let our Enemy determine our actions, and decide when we should do them?
    Irony is Ms. Johnstone’s ‘game’. Here she extolls the virtue of citizen video, in general, even as the Mass Media-induced Mass Mob Hysteria over a particular video yet plays out. What one expects next to hear from her, consistent with her ‘style’, is for her to point out the crushing irony that the video itself, the actual footage, does not show what the Mass Mob has decided to pretend that it shows.
    Celebration of mass delusion is the essence of Mass Mob Hysteria. Believe me. folks. Mass delusion doesn’t lead us anywhere good, anywhere we want to be.
    And here comes Mr. Finn, with his neat gentlemanly tray of insultingly self-biased irony. If we want to examine the video closely, to find whatever truth it reveals, we are scolded because the truth it reveals does not fit the Mass Mob narrative.
    52% of African Americans are either upper middle class, or middle class. (59% of Hispanic Americans).
    In 2017, and 2018, police in the US killed TWICE as many poor white people as African Americans. In 2019, it was 370 white people killed by police, and 235 African Americans, so it was a bit less than twice as many white people killed.
    Two of the police now charged with crimes, (crimes that are alleged by the Mass Mob to be racist brutality amounting to “deliberate racist murder” of George Floyd), are people of color. Has the Mass Mob even noticed that yet? So … Now it’s not just “racist white supremacists”, it’s “people-of-color supremacists” as well? Ahh … The plot thickens … Is this like Jewish people who oppose Israel’s racist brutality being “self-hating Jews’? (The hierarchy-of-victimhood thing has its own weird ideation that is VERY unappealing to a LARGE percentage of people, myself included).
    The video reveals the tragedy of a man being killed. George Floyd did not just die. He was killed. He should not have been. It was partly his fault. Putting all fault on the police is taking away our responsibility, as citizens, for our own behavior. Being drunk and belligerent while going around out in the world is almost always going to lead anyone into trouble, and often into deadly danger. Being a large and powerful man means that other men, police included, respect and fear his size and power. A large and powerful man drunk on his ass and acting belligerent, belligerence that included further resisting arrest when already in custody, is not participating in society in a socially acceptable way.
    This has NOTHING to do with race, or even politics. This is guys and gals, out on the nitty gritty street, whose job it is to go out and get between people’s tribal angers at one another. People of all races, especially POOR people of all races, get themselves into predicaments like George Floyd got himself into. Bad stuff happens to poor people. There are almost as many poor white people as poor ‘people of color’. 48% of ALL poor people are white. Bad shit happens to poor people. People should be reaching across tribal divisions, to realize that it is economic alliance that matters. People should NOT be looking for any contrived excuse to release primitive Mass Mob tribal animosities at one another.
    The police detail squad that handled what should have been a routine ‘situation’ made a horrible mistake in their handling of a very large and powerful man, whose size, strength, and raw power was far greater than any of theirs, who was, by a witness’s account, “very drunk and belligerent”, and who apparently went berserkly violent, with his hands already cuffed behind him, when he was simply asked to sit down in the back of the arresting police’s patrol car.
    I can’t find any fault in their arresting him. He was drunk and belligerent. A store clerk alleged that he had passed a bogus $20 bill. Do others think he should not have been arrested? Do we think it should be ‘OK’ to be drunk and disorderly? (That was reason enough for an arrest). They cuffed him, and sat him down with his back against a wall. They apparently then did some ‘investigation’ of the situation, and decided that he needed to be ‘booked’.
    Do others think he should have been released? If so, why?
    So, they decided he needed to go to jail. They got him up, walked him to the car, and he then balks at getting in the car. He should not have done that. He’d still be alive if he had just sat down in the car. Why did he resist? (Drunk people are not known for the high quality of their critical judgement skills).
    That large powerful man, cuffed behind his back, being dragged out the passenger side door onto the pavement, seems like the likely outcome of whatever happened in the back seat. His feet were free to kick at them from the driver’s side. Pulling him head first out the passenger side would be about all you could do. Maybe they should have just left him in the car? Maybe. (I sure bet they wish they did now). But we’re talking about ‘decisions’ that were made in micro-seconds in the course of dangerous violence, which Mr. Floyd initiated. “Let’s see … Here comes the sharp blade to cut off my head … Should I use the reverse parry with my sword, or do a spin reverse move with my shield?” … Such life or death ‘decisions’ are made VERY (VERY!) fast.
    They obviously should have got off of him. They can be heard clearly telling Floyd, in a reasonably calm tone, to stop resisting so they could ‘let up’. They should have got off him when he ‘let up’ with his resistance. They didn’t. They appeared to be calm. They did not appear to realize that they were putting Floyd’s life in danger. We don’t know yet what Floyd actually died from. Has the toxicology report come back? This was a middle-aged man. Was his heart overstressed by the adrenaline of the violence? (Which would cause extreme shortness of breath). Were drugs, besides alcohol, involved? Chauvin appears to be calm, and simply waiting for someone else to arrive to take Floyd into custody.
    The police screwed up. Their actions killed George Floyd. They should have gotten off him once they felt him ‘relent’. THAT was the ‘fatal’ mistake. (I don’t think leaving him in the back seat was really a good option). These police must be responsible for their mistake.
    But anyone who watches the actual video closely can see that “deliberate murder”, (“deliberate strangling to death”), did not take place, and there is ZERO evidence, thus far, (certainly not in the video), that there was ANY ‘racist’ motivation in ANY of the four accused police, (again, two of them people of color).
    But we have people rioting because the “racist police murdered George Floyd”.
    Uhh … Yer jes tryin’ t’ play the “my narrative is better than your narrative” game, Caitlin m’girl. When yer so obviously tryin’ t’ play the highly biased ‘narrative game’, while you preach some flowery stuff about “awakening into the truth”, that’s not really a posture that flatters you.

    1. Excellent. Well stated and correct on every point. You articulated the ironies of this article and the situation in general. However few want to admit or discuss them.

      1. And you’re another serial fool. You two should get a room and bloviate each other.

        1. I suggest all people that hate the police should go on a few ride a longs with them to see what they have to deal with each day. The Cops program on TV is a very sanitized version of their days. Dealing with the worst of society day in and out affects how you deal with your job. You will naturally build walls and expect the unexpected every moment. It is a difficult and stressful job. Prople that complain about them need to maybe think about that. Its a job no one wants to do but everyone wants to complain about. Do abuses happen. Yes. But far more good than bad happen in their day to day job.

    2. I saw a man pin another man’s neck with his leg for nearly 10 minutes. He obviously had ‘stopped resisting’ when he went limp, a full 2 plus minutes before the leg was removed. You’re a bloviating wind bag and you’re full of shit.

      1. R Zwarich ('Caliban') Avatar
        R Zwarich (‘Caliban’)

        Thank you for weighing in with these comments. I agree with your assessment that the police make a ‘fatal’ error. We don’t know what the actual cause of death was, but it doesn’t strike me that the knee cutting off circulation would cause the man to be short of breath. The weight of Chauvin on his chest would be a more likely cause of Floyd not being able to breathe.
        I also think it’s possible that the adrenaline of the violence, coupled with extreme intoxication, caused a heart rhythm irregularity, or some kind of acute heart distress, which could definitely have caused extreme shortness of breath, and explain Floyd’s not being able to breath.
        The knee wasn’t on his windpipe. It was on the side of his neck. A classic ‘choke hold’ causes unconsciousness from cutting off blood flow to the brain by cutting off flow in the carotid artery. I’m sure no expert, (other than I’ve been in one, and did lose consciousness), but I believe that to be effective, a choke hold has to apply pressure to both sides of the neck. A ‘choke hold’ that cops used before they were widely banned does not ‘strangle’ a person from breathing. It’s cuts off blood flow.
        I AGREE that the police fucked up, and that they must be held responsible. I think that the video clearly shows that the police were poorly trained and/or poorly disciplined. But it also clearly shows that the police had no intention of killing this guy.
        Two of the police now charged are people of color. There is exactly ZERO evidence, thus far presented, that George Floyd’s race has anything at ALL to do with the incident.

    3. You talk too much. Cease your long-winded pomposity.

      1. R Zwarich ('Caliban') Avatar
        R Zwarich (‘Caliban’)

        Thanks just the same, but I don’t respond well to direct orders. You think you have some authority of some kind here? My ‘rank’ is ‘citizen’. Yours?

        You like to boss people around, eh? Good luck with that. Maybe you’ll be a big shot some day.

  7. There are a couple of problems with viewing one’s world through a 3″X 5″ screen. The dissemination of such views are largely under the control of a tech oligarchy that serves the state. Those same platforms hand over data on their users to the state. They also intentionally congregate those of similar points of view, creating division among us into echo chambers. All these are reasons to highly value Caitlin’s , and a few other sites, that have kept open comments sections independent from Facebook, Twitter, etc.

  8. I’m no more trustful of videos than I am of journalism in general. Videos can be edited or staged and their widespread distribution is controlled by an increasingly censorious social media. There is also the fallacy of believing some practice must be widespread to nearly universal simply because there is a video of one instance of it or conversely that something must be non-existent because a video has not yet come to light. Videos have taught us that Bigfoot probably does not exist? Heck, I’ve seen plenty of Bigfoot videos. Many are then verbally debunked as staged by “experts” I’ve never heard of, but who should I trust? Better to remain as agnostic on the Bigfoot question as I was before I ever saw a video.

  9. Caitlin’s preamble about the unreliability of historical information is broadly correct. As usual, there are exceptions, such as craftsmen passing technology to their heirs.
    The tendency to underestimate our predecessors is a pernicious habit that i find disturbing.
    The most valuable artifact made by our predecessors dwarfs modern Science with its scope and usefulness, but apprehending so transformative an extension to our realityMap takes years of effort to make it our reality.
    Advanced thinking takes specialised skills and experience, something which requires an enthusiasm for understanding how things work. Being myself so afflicted, i am pleased to confirm that the reportage documenting the body of knowledge accumulated by a Toltec lineage of scientists who specialise in the mastery of Awareness . . . is both authentic and precisely effective.
    This knowledge is valuable above all others because it directly addresses our essence with techniques that sober out attitude and cultivates our latent abilities. Awareness is the core of our being, so the science of awareness is the study of the mystery that confers life.
    Just as some luxury vehicles are more agile and powerful, our experience in this perverse circumstance of oppression by cannibal capitalists (defended like gangsters by an army of police) can easily become a nightmare, with suicide seeming to be the only exit.
    The challenge is to assemble the totality of our self into a functioning whole, while being opposed and provoked into error by an adversary who wants to own us . . . like the Borg.
    Whether or not we volunteered, here we are, and the politics emanating from USA oligarchs is telling us what we are : which is the very opposite of supporting our aspirations for self-definition.

  10. Watches, jewelry, rings, and electronic gadgets will get you mugged in New York city if you are as old as I am. It is great that ordinary people can record what is happening right in front of them and send it out into the public domain. The free thought project on the internet shows many a video of police misconduct which happens many times a day all over the U.S.A.

    1. Regardless of the race of its victims. “Pretty damn racist” is far more a description of one of the tools of division used by our overlords than it is a description of our unmanipulated selves. Governments are the last bastions of racism. I begrudge no one the power to refuse voluntary service to anyone, for any reason, including sexual preference, race, etc. however high the disdain I feel for such. To force such service is slavery, pure and simple. But when was the last time anyone heard of such denial regarding race? The vast majority of us have used reason and education to successfully repress the instinctual fear of those “not like us”, to the point we don’t even realize we are doing so. Fear and division are the primary tools of tyrants. Be ever vigilant against them.

  11. It didn’t take long to undermine the credibility of “camera footage”! https://beebom.com/best-deepfake-apps-websites/

  12. History was invented long before the advent of the written word. I think the phrase you are looking for is oral history?
    This false premise seems to lead to a belief that there was never a revolution before the invention of the mobile smartphone + video camera combo.
    I guess that comes from living in a country that has never revolted against royal authority. The rest of us learned long ago that you don’t have to listen to the King’s storytellers.
    I suppose that’s why America is currently challenging its reality, and Australia is not.

    1. Also, surely, because Australia has a more humane, though far from perfect, “current reality.”

  13. A person must go forward from where they stand.
    They cannot jump to the absolute.
    They cannot jump …. they must evolve.

  14. Edward Hirsch Avatar
    Edward Hirsch

    Hello, Caitlin,

    Here’s a mixed review. I wonder why commentators (like yourself) feel the need to make their point (which is a good one generally), but then apparently feel the need to bolster it by adding gratuitous stuff that is irrelevant. So apparently you are trying to make the point about how amazing ordinary people are, and now they have access to make their own videos rather than relying on established media channels. Great going, two good points. But then why do you feel the need to add something about bigfoot and close encounters of the third kind, which is really logically irrelevant to your point, and things that you know nothing about, and I mean NOTHING. You might say you were only being humorous, or that it was a clever way of trying to say, “Hey, don’t look to these weird things for the amazing, look for it in ordinary people every day.” So here’s a suggestion, Caitlin: don’t try to be so clever, and just make your points, OK? Don’t tell people what to think beyond that, else you are getting too close for comfort to the usual narrative manipulators.

    1. So I gather you had an encountet of the third time in your past. Or did you see bigfoot on one of yournature walks.

  15. Thanks CJ. The local march [small city in Iowa] garnered the usual anti-racist lines while missing the problem, for the most part. The institutions we have come to rely on reflect our character-if those institutions condone inhumane action, we have become an inhumane society, as a whole. But video evidence is impossible to refute, only ignore. While ignorance may be the new American pastime for many, there are some that will still call bullshit, and step into the breech, regardless of the cost.

  16. Dear Caitlin,

    You are so accurate … as always.

    Keep up the great work with blinkers off.

    Cheers to you,


  17. But how may people see it with their own eyes compared to how many people see it on Facebook, YouTube.

    1. Gmail is more than enough for this octogenarian. No twit. No napshat, no facehook.

  18. It’s pretty hard to convince people that something is untrue when they have seen it with their own eyes. That’s why nobody can convince me that socialism is a bad thing.

    1. R Zwarich ('Caliban') Avatar
      R Zwarich (‘Caliban’)

      You’ve seen socialism with your own eyes?

      1. Genuine socialism, as opposed to some authoritarian bastardization of it, has yet to be born. Perhaps the closest we’ve come is Cuba, which despite Castro’s own slide into authoritarianism, has done some amazing things for a small, poor country which has faced, from the outset of its revolution, seemingly impossible odds.

      2. I’ve seen it working just fine. It’ll work in America too.

  19. I’m reminded of how certain people don’t like cameras or photographs and they think that having your photo taken is having your soul stolen. It is interesting what smartphone video cameras take, and what they give.

  20. control of the data = control of the narrative

  21. Tim you got it.
    Deep Learning
    Deep state
    Deep sleep
    Deep shit.
    Go Girl

  22. And then Deep Learning AI happens and our vision of who we are vanishes again behind matrices of algorithms.

    There are no lengths to which those that wish to deceive will go.

    1. Timothy Leary Avatar
      Timothy Leary

      How can a machine erase my vision of who I am?
      Why would I let it?
      Remember that you are you.
      People talking about our’s and we’s are only likely to confuse you.
      Just remember that you is you, and then you’ll be ok.
      You are not a part of someone else’s we.
      You are you.
      Nobody, no machine can erase your vision of who you.
      Your vision of who you are is yours and yours alone.

      1. When machine learning and AI are combined with constant surveillance from your own device and combined with propaganda and conditioning tailored to you personally, and conducted continuously without end, then most people would have trouble finding themselves after a few years. You use the device and the device is used to train you. It all comes down to how much time you spend using a device. With the rollout of the internet of things, everything you use becomes such a device.

        1. Excellent counterpoints. Tech can help us or hurt us or both, but it’s not likely it can save us.

    2. This whole train of thought reminds me of the movie years ago called The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He tried to stop mass murder and video was changed to show him instigating it. Another one with Sean Connery dealt with the same subject. We soon will not even believe video or pictures. Only the experts would be able to tell the difference and these in power control them. Think coronovirus experts as a good example.

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