For a long time I had been thinking about safety and security, and noticing how those ideas were manipulating and twisting so much of our lives. From warnings on coffee cups to colour–coded terrorist gauges to ubiquitous security cameras, our culture is being transformed by a fixation on safety.
So in 2006 I published this book – WATCH YOURSELF -to try to figure some of it out. I took the thread and gave it a tug, following and interrogating what I found, from lawyers and insurance to the shrinking world of childhood to the constriction of public space, and I kept finding a cultural conversation that has lost its bearings. The result is not just a neurotically restrictive society, but one which actively undermines individual and community self–reliance. We are creating a world of officious administration, management by statistics, absurd regulations, rampaging lawsuits, and hygenically cleansed cities. We are trying to render the human and natural worlds predictable and calculated. In doing so, we are trampling common discourse about politics and ethics.
My argument is that safer just isnt always better. It’s tough to argue against safety, but I think its also really important to reassert the value of risk and unpredictability, and to resist creeping authoritarianism and expert management of our lives.