Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

What is a society where you can secretly snitch on your neighbor like?

Asked by wundayatta (58599points) April 10th, 2010

Throughout history, there have been societies where the power structure seeks to control the society by encouraging citizens to snitch on each other. The Soviet Union comes to mind. Iran under its current government is also a good example.

In such societies, people are encouraged to report others for violations, but they never have to stand behind these accusations. They just have to make them and the secret police decide what to do about it.

Additionally, citizens who might want to curry favor with those in power (or indeed, with the entire “right thinking” population) might publish statements in which they cast out various slanders about some unnamed group of people.

What is it like to live under such a regime? What does it feel like? How does it affect your actions? What does it do to you when you know that any of your neighbors might be ratting you out, or even throwing some baseless accusation at you? What is it like when you have no idea who the secret police are because they wear masks whenever they show up at your house? What is it like when no one has to be responsible for their actions to slander or hurt someone else?

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15 Answers

ucme's avatar

There’s no need for such a society it’s already here.Big Brother is watching us.

Seek's avatar

It already occurs. Your neighbor can hear loud noises, then anonymously call and report domestic violence. The cop shows up and someone is going to jail. Then, the state prosecutor picks up the case, whether or not anyone wants to press charges. .

wundayatta's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr and @ucme So are you implying that it is a normal and ubiquitous thing and you don’t much worry about it? Are you saying that wherever you find it, you accept it?

Cruiser's avatar

It’s a lot like Fluther….<<Flag>> “PM…MODS!!!”

ucme's avatar

In Britain you can’t move for surveillance CCTV. They are quite literally everywhere like some great eye looking & frowning down on us.I don’t like it, in some instances, but there’s very little that can be done so it’s just something to tolerate I suppose.

DarkScribe's avatar

Is there a society where you can’t snitch on your neigbour?

netgrrl's avatar

These days with so many participating in geolocation “games” like foursquare there’s no need for Big Brother. People broadcast nearly every move themselves.

Seek's avatar


Absolutely not. I do not accept it as normal and natural, in fact I find it horrendous and one of the main reasons I can’t wait until I can afford to emigrate away from this country.

kittybee's avatar

I think that kind of servalence could be a good thing as long as the laws are reasonable. It’s good to live in a society where people are keeping a close eye on the rest…for obvious reasons. But it is also very important that we are allowed enough freedom, like having our own opinion on things, even the government. Trouble is keeping it from spiralling out of control.

Seek's avatar


Just keep in mind: as soon as a liberty is taken away, it is never given back. The laws will only get more restrictive.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t think we in the U.S. and other Western countries have any idea whatsoever what it’s really like to live in an atmosphere of constant fear, unforgiving surveillance, and irresponsible, unproven accusation. I don’t think having a neighbor call the cops out of concern that you might be getting hurt is the mark of an oppressive regime. Someone who has lived where a woman can be arrested for wearing jeans and a man can be imprisoned for a chance word overheard through a closed door would have to answer this question.

YARNLADY's avatar

In a perfect society, each person really is his brother’s keeper. It could be the best way to avoid the situation like we recently had when a murderer had to be let go after his accusers were mysteriously killed. Like any civil action, it can be used for good and for bad. Your choice of the word snitch could be construed to mean somebody turned you in for illegal behavior and you want revenge.

JeffVader's avatar

Well, you’re living in one right now….... so how does it feel?

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