Monday, May 30, 2011

The new Truman Show

I have to say I’m of two minds about this story. On the one hand, I can understand why friends and well-wishers were quick to organize an electronic search party to find Matt Hill. I guess we fear the worst, and therefore mobilize efforts as early as possible. We live in a dangerous world. Some Criminal Minds scenario is never far from our haunted consciousness.

On the other hand, it’s almost like police-state surveillance, where–in effect–there are hidden cameras everywhere you go. A ubiquitous eye-in-sky. One of those Jason Borne scenes in which your every move is monitored, recorded, displayed on giant screens in Times Square. 

What if that’s precisely what he was trying to avoid. Not to be on-call 24/7. To drop out of sight for a few days. Get away from it all. Have some time to himself. Pull the plug on all of the increasingly intrusive devices which constantly track our whereabouts.

From the little I read, he’s single. A grown man. So he should be free to do something on his own, on the spur of the moment. It’s not like he has a wife and kids to come back to every night.

Yet his efforts to have a bit of privacy, peace and quiet, away from the public gaze, from the madding crowd, from the constant din of digital voices, had the opposite effect. In the light speed of the Internet, social media, &c., this suddenly became a national story. Like living in a fishbowl.

Is there no refuge? Are we all actors in The Trueman Show?

Maybe there’s more to the story, but it’s none of our business. 


  1. Bourne



  2. If a man with no commitments wants to unplug for a few days, no problem. I think the difference here is 1) he's a Campus Outreach employee/missionary, 2) he had scheduled meetings at CHBC that he missed (which was the initial reason for alarm) and 3) he apparently specifically told the last person to see him that he was on his way to CHBC to work. If he decided on a lark to drive 470 miles to Asheville instead, we can hardly cluck our tongues at the resulting manhunt. Big Brother wasn't tracking him - his anxious friends and family were.

  3. How cool it is to see someone actually use the phrase "madding crowd" correctly (without changing it to "maddening.")