Being an Armchair Vigilante Sucks
Cast your mind back a few weeks—remember how we were raging with Orwellian discontent at Internet Eyes’ new scheme to get you narcing out shoplifters online for cash? Yeah, well after I filed the copy I went to the shop on the corner, realised I didn’t have enough money for a Twix and decided to start narcing out shoplifters online for cash.
Unfortunately for us, all five CCTV feeds you’re asked to man are pointed at pic n’ mix aisles in Devon, a county that was hardly Sweet Thief Scumbag Central before an overall crime drop last year of 6.2%. Not to be Mickey Mercenary or anything, but where’s the incentive to get in on this crypto-fascist spy game if you’re hardly even likely to recoup your £1.99 monthly subs?
In fairness, if you are watching the feeds and do happen to spot something illicit going on, you’re just a button push away from a potential £1,000 reward—not a working wage, exactly, but enough to fund another three and a half years of armchair vigilantism, or 3,571 fingers of caramel and chocolate.
Before you start tearing the ribs from your chest in excitement, however, be aware that the camera feeds are often horrendously poor in their quality. Most are so out of focus you can’t make out whether would be crims are pocketing bean tins or fingering the person stood next to them. I also had one camera that was overlooking a photobooth. I’m not really sure if you can scam a photobooth, but I guess people will try. I thought perhaps the shop owner was hoping a couple of hot girls would jump in and start posing like in that Aerosmith video where Steve fetishises his daughter.
Tony Morgan (right), Internet Eyes' evil overlord
At some points during my month long stand against petty crime, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps Internet Eyes creator Tony Morgan had got me paying to look at old, recycled footage set to loop. At one point I swear I was watching a feed from Woolworths, which I’m pretty sure went bust two years ago.
There could be some fun to be had if you were able to wantonly hammer at the alert button and send the shop owner running for his cricket bat every five minutes, but the Internet Eyes system limits you to just a handful of alerts per month. While decreasing the chances of guffawing 13-year-olds wasting time, you can’t help but wonder if this isn’t going to encourage a few ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’-type scenarios...
Imagine, there’s a smash of glass, then the shopkeeper’s wailing as the baggy skin on his skull crumples beneath the butt of a robber’s machete. His grey thatch torn and blood-spattered, and them still there, laughing and thirsty. Frozen with shock, you’re still wincing through the stop-motion fuzz, and as he falls quietly to the earth for the last time, shaking one severed fist ruefully up at the lens. He knew you were watching, and you were helpless, because last week you got bored and started hitting the red button at random. Tosser.