When The Lines Of Privacy Are Blurred

I was in high school in the 80s. I read 1984 and Future Shock and had discussions in class about Big Brother. And I remember thinking, I live an honest life. I have nothing to hide. So what if there will be cameras on the streets? That’s for the bad guys. The guys who deserve to be caught.

Case in point: Victim in Videotaped ATL Beating Identified

Now that the victim has been identified, hopefully the bullies will be brought to justice.

Then came YouTube. I remember watching a television show where a young girl video taped a man changing a tire who was swearing through the process. She posted it on YouTube and I thought, hmmmm. How many times have I been in public and displayed less than mature behavior? I certainly wouldn’t want my actions to go viral. Outside the confines of my home what kind of privacy can I expect?

With the advent of text messaging, camera phones and WiFi, our ability to spread the word or picture or live action is a matter of pushing a few buttons. A generation is being created who over-shares with virtual strangers and takes no issue with publicizing their own, a friend’s or a stranger’s poor choices.

As funny as viral videos can be, where is the line drawn?

My husband is a fan of Tosh.O. (Don’t judge. It’s his version of mindless entertainment.) The other night a video was featured of a woman, sticking her hand down the backside of her pants, pulling it out and smelling (tasting? I honestly don’t know. I was so grossed out, I left the room) what was on her hand. The person taping the event was laughing so hard the camera was shaking.

Obviously, she was displaying inappropriate public behavior. One could argue (and rightly so) that it was inappropriate private behavior.

What I find horribly inappropriate is that someone would…

a) think it OK to tape the action

b) think it fine to post the video evidence on YouTube

c) that others would watch, laugh and not feel the least bit squeamish that they might be watching something they shouldn’t


d) that a television show would re-broadcast the video for anyone to see who might have missed it the first time around.

The more savvy electronics become the more detached we seem to be from each other. And the more attached we are to our plug-in devices, the more we disassociate ourselves from ethical responsibility toward others.

I’m stymied. I don’t have any answers. I want a manual, a guide and then laws to back up my distaste for this voyeurism that I find so offensive. I want others to join me in this disorganized crusade. I want someone or something to police the internet airwaves and root out immoral and offensive content. I want to be able to walk down the street, slip on the sidewalk with my dress flying above my waist, knowing that only a handful of people saw my thong. And as embarrassing as that would be, at least it wouldn’t be broadcast to the world, living on in infamy.

I know what I want.

But how do we get there?


Filed under Be-Causes, Soapbox

15 responses to “When The Lines Of Privacy Are Blurred

  1. I hear you. I’ve thought the same type of thing, ‘why do I need privacy when I’m not doing anything wrong’? but I recognize that that’s kind of a cop out because I’m too tired and/or lazy to figure out how to agitate for appropriate privacy laws and then do so.

  2. Amen! My students are obsessed with posting anything and everything about their lives. When does the line get drawn? When will they see that the things they post will never go away and will live in the Internet forever, shaping their futures. It is a scary thought. Have you read the book “Feed” by any chance? I am in the middle of it now. It is a dystopian book and it deals with this topic in a very scary way. I think you’d like it. It is YA so an easy but good read.

  3. I don’t know…I don’t see how you can regulate the internet..but I suppose there’s a way to do anything. Mostly I think you have to ignore things that might have embarrassed you once upon a time. Because probably sometime somewhere we’ll all end up on YouTube doing something stupid.
    I do agree kids don’t realize the extent of the power of the internet. And what we might have done that was stupid but private when we were young is now so public.

    It’s a whole new world and laws have to catch up…but I can guarantee that it will be a looooong time before anything really happens and it will probably take a whole lot of really bad things to get the attention of lawmakers.

  4. I firmly believe that you don’t have the right to take a picture or post a picture of another person without permission. I can’t imagine why people think this kind of posting is appropriate. I have been very clear with my fifteen year old that taking an inappropriate or so called “funny” picture of a classmate and posting could get him in a whole lot of trouble. So our rule is unless the picture is of you don’t post it.

  5. I’m with you. If I want to be “out there” let me do it myself. Isn’t putting anyone’s image on the internet without her permission a form of cyber bullying?

  6. I agree that in too many ways, privacy is being violated. I agree that too many of our younger people have lost their sense of decorum and do not think about ramifications that could result from things they post. However, when you start talking about laws preventing this type of thing, you’re talking about giving more control to people who are only human and whose judgement as to what is right and wrong may not be all that we would hope. I think control of this type of thing needs to start at home. I think teaching our kids about respecting privacy needs to rest with the parents. I think we don’t want big brother controlling our lives anymore than he already does.

  7. My husband and son LOVE Tosh.O. must be a man thing? But some of that stuff is just wrong.

  8. Jane, I have passed the Versatile Blogger award on to you, because you deserve it!

  9. I agree with Carol. I have teenage children who explore the internet or play games online. They have come across some things on YouTube that I find offensive. I let them know why I think that and keep drilling into their heads that they are not to post any such pictures or videos of themselves, no matter how funny or cool it is. Privacy starts at home.

  10. I fear that Pandora’s box has been opened and nothing can change the resulting evil that has been unleashed. The line we thought was drawn has not only moved, it has been erased. And we are all the worse for it.

  11. Tosh.O…my husband loves that show…I can’t watch it. I usually end up gagging or getting really pissed off. I agree that the whole privacy issue has gotten completely out of control.

  12. It seems there is no more private.

    Everything you click is memorized. Everything you do is recorded. And in a voyeuristic and narcissistic society, we watch or proclaim 20 hours a day.

    It’s all creepy to me. I don’t know how to maximize my kids’ privacy while building a community of people I couldn’t otherwise meet.

    I think the recent appeal of Victorian literature is that the only side people saw of each other is what they said, did, and wrote. Nothing else. Manners, facades, pretenses. We are afforded none of that any more.

    Of course, we blog, so we can’t possibly crave privacy *that* much…but I know what you mean and share your confusion and horror.

  13. I want people to act in a mature way, and to have basic taste and decency. Hmmmm……

  14. Tosh.0. Did you see the one where the guy tries to rob the convient store with a big stick?! That was hilarious!!! Ok, I totally get where you’re coming from. It’s wierd and horrible out there. We do need some laws to help us through this because people need their privacy, people don’t need to be bullied or libabled either. Maybe we start a citizens brigade?

  15. Jayne

    Well I’m 99% sure that posting or using someone’s image without their permission is illegal. I don’t know this programme but I assume it’s similar to things like ‘You’ve Been Framed’ here in the UK and all clips are submitted by the public, presumably with the right consents to use them. I’m flabbergasted by what apparently intelligent people will readily post online and allow to be shown on TV. I accept, however, that I’m probably terribly old-fashioned and, to an extent, the French in me means that you won’t, in any case, be hearing my deepest darkest secrets any time soon! I wonder if ‘Mrs Bottom Rummager’ submitted the clip? Her fifteen minutes of fame? (Underselling herself, but there we are …chacun à son goût).

    How do we stop this? Turning off the telly or going to another channel when this stuff is on would be a start. It continues because there is a viewing public. I also wonder whether as time goes on people will understand the mistake they’ve made of being so open and ‘out there.’ We’re all like little children with this new toy ‘The Internet’ and the internet has undoubtedly influenced things like TV entertainment and our general behaviour.

    BTW, it’s slight tangential…but kind of related to this … the other day I came across a photo (online, obviously) of a baby/child, clearly distressed, after an air conditioning unit had fallen on them. Who ever thought it OK to take the photo rather than rescuing the child straight away?! It seems to me that our boundaries have long ago sailed down the Swanee River.

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