They watch from their balconies who has taken the dog out three times, they question people who have delayed ten minutes in their time slot or they reprimand athletes who go out in groups. How is the psychological profile of the figure of the policeman on the balcony that emerged during confinement?
Throughout this quarantine, citizens have spontaneously emerged who, from their balconies or from social networks, feel the right (or even the obligation) to point the finger at those who do not strictly comply with the guidelines established as a result of the state of alarm. What drives them to act as police officers? Why do they feel legitimized for it?
In any socio-political, ideological, religious or health system that is intended to be Universal, that is to say that it has to serve for All, there are always those who, without this being their function or profession, become the faithful and permanent guardians of that order established, even becoming informers for those who transgress its rules. Psychology can help us understand why they act this way.
THE PROFILE OF THE “VIGILANT” CITIZEN
Two characteristics are usually revealed in these characters who watch over their neighbors.
- People with a certain paranoia unleashed. Generally, towards peers and not towards the powerful, by which they place their neighbors as the cause of any problem that occurs in that society and that, therefore, harms them.
- People who cannot stand that the other lives better. It is the other aspect, that of not supporting that other people enjoy more than oneself, that they can be freer or happier.
Combined both characteristics and placed in the current situation of forced and prescribed confinement and lack of confinement, the result is a multiplication of vigilantes of individuals who do not strictly comply with all the orders emanating from the authorities.
WHAT DRIVES THEM TO ACT LIKE THIS?
It could be objected that the gossippers who act as snitches at this time are doing it for their health, for the “good of all.” But the reasons are usually deeper and can have an emotional origin, usually linked to fears:
- They prefer to assume that the fault lies with the people to feel more secure
It would be to the governments, who are the ones who have the competences in all the areas, who should be asked for explanations, functions and coherent responsibilities because it is not the people who have the concrete data on what is happening.
But, aiming at the top would also mean accepting that, in the face of this virus with which we fight, the rulers have only partial knowledge.
That is, they are made up of fallible people. We prefer to think that, like parents, they know everything and thus become their highest representatives and defenders of a non existent absolute truth.
- It is a self-defense system so as not to see the real situation
If it turns out that we have reduced this whole situation to blaming the neighbor that he has taken the dog out three times, that he has delayed ten minutes in his time slot, or that all the athletes have left at the same time, we are only using a defense system to not see the real situation.
And it is that until now, nobody knows if the best thing is the total confinement -and in that case nobody would have to go to work, or if, for example, it is necessary to go in contact with the virus, so that certain immunization in the population. There are different ways of facing the same reality.
- They can envy or find joy in punishment
Sometimes, those who act as a panopticon of the lives of others, it is either because there is a certain envy that they are capable of going beyond where they are going or else because, although it seems paradoxical, they have found more pleasure in this “watching over and punishing” than in other forms of existence.
The justifications can be varied, but the truth is that they are much more aware of everything that happens around them, than to see the way in which they can enjoy themselves. From which it follows that either they have not found anything that satisfies them. Or that enjoyment is greater than any other.
- A way to channel anger
The situation would resemble that picture in which the child boycotts the moment when the little brother is sucking and is flooded with rage. Not because he needs this type of food anymore, but because he cannot bear that there is a fellow man enjoying what he once enjoyed and that it is the mother who is offering it to him. The danger, especially for others, is that this bitterness becomes a way of life.
THE SOCIAL “SNITCH”, A FIGURE THAT IS NOT NEW
The figure of the social policeman or the “snitch” has emerged at different times in our history. Let us remember the cruel role played in Nazism by the denunciation of Jews, homosexuals or individuals who did not enter into that genocidal regime.
But also, without reaching that extreme, in the ” cold war” that took place between capitalism and communism, there were examples of that control and supervision by the citizens of any movement or opinion of those who did not agree with the slogans of their representatives.
In the 1950s, McCarthyism prevailed in the United States with its well-known “witch hunt” and “black lists”, drawn up between the McCarthy government and fellow citizens who, in the name of loyalty to the country, spied on the readings, trips or company types to see if they were subversive.
No less happened in those years in the communist part, the USSR or China. Totalitarian regimes in which, once again, any inhabitant could be denounced, by an official or civilian, as a traitor to the party, a spy for imperialism or a bourgeois saboteur.
And much closer in our country was the é little Franco. Some teachers, priests and balcony and curtain sentinels dedicated themselves to judging, criticizing and inciting punishment to those who did not comply with the national-Catholic morality, which prescribed how the behavior of each individual should be in all areas and circumstances.