Somebody’s Watching You

“Every move you make, every breath you take, I’ll be watching you.”

That line, from the huge 1983 hit “Every Breath You Take” by The Police was about a stalkerish lover, but they could have been singing about life for all of us in 2010. Everybody really is watching you.

This line of thinking was inspired by the recent news about the Google Buzz feature. Critics complain it makes it too easy to track users through their Gmail accounts. Strike another blow for knowing more than you wanted to know about your friends and enemies.

Have you ever stopped to think how many ways the world can get the goods on you nowadays? How you can never hide?

That cell phone you’re carrying can tell somebody where you are all the time. Maybe a camera caught you running a red light. Did you cause an accident while running that red light? There’s probably a “black box” in your car that can tell investigators how fast you were going and maybe even how well you were driving.

Was the other driver drunk? Surveillance cameras probably caught him buying the booze. Have either of you gotten in trouble for reckless driving before? A quick Google search might solve that mystery pretty quickly.

By the way, a bystander probably filmed your crash, and it  will probably be up on YouTube within an hour.

So is privacy dead? Does it matter if it is?

Some people don’t care. That everybody knows what everybody is doing is just a fact of life for some people, especially the young ‘uns, who reveal everything they’re doing via text message, Twitter and Facebook. 

Others are horrified if there is just one innocuous reference to them on Google.

Should I even worry that my life, thanks to technology, is an open book? Even a novice can sort through computer records and get a very complete, but only semi-accurate picture of what my life is. I honestly don’t know what to think about that.    

Of course, I’ve made little effort to hide. I put myself out there all the time. I’m doing it now by writing this. 

 It’s hard to say if all this monitoring makes the consequences of what we do bigger or smaller. On one hand, there’s so much data out there on all of us that it probably doesn’t matter what we do.  There’s such an overload of data that nobody has the wherewithal to pursue it. For instance, terrorists have been on line for the world to see, and the CIA and other agencies never noticed a thing.

But what if somebody has some agenda? They have the power to find one little stupid thing we did in an otherwise exemplary life. They can make the negatives of our lives known to everybody. They can exaggerate things and demonize us. If we do something a self-styled moralizer doesn’t like, are we in trouble or not?

 I sound paranoid. Does the lack of privacy make us all paranoid? And does that prevent us from being fully who we are, because we are afraid of the public reaction? Or does it free us to be who we want to be,  because we are all on a level, privacy-free playing field?

Can you tell I have a lot of questions but few answers about this?

We’re all guilty of feeding the monitoring beast,  by doing Google searches on our friends, doing something as innocent as reviewing Facebook messages, or watching YouTube videos like the funny one I posted here of a stupid criminal trying and failing to burglarize a liquor store.      

I wonder what this guy’s reaction is to knowing that hundreds of thousands of people, maybe millions, have laughed at him over his incompetent crime. Did it ruin his life? Improve it somehow?

That we have no more privacy is an unpredictable, doubled edged sword.

One Response to “Somebody’s Watching You”

  1. Stech Says:

    Been watching “Enemy of the State” again Matt? LOL

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