Society is a collection of individual people. Individual people are prone to change, often, or better yet, constantly. If individual people are constantly changing, society is also constantly changing. Because of the grand scale society is on, some changes take longer to manifest than others do in relation to the changes occurring on the individual level. However you look at it, society is constantly in motion. The matter to concern ourselves with is whether or not the change is good.
I know, good and bad are soooo subjective and no one can agree on what is what anymore. I get it. But that’s the issue! Individuals have changed their perception of good and bad relative to the moral code of previous generations. They say that what one generation abhors, the next generation tolerates and the third generation embraces. “They” are sometimes right, and I think they are in this case. People are changing their moral concept, and society at large is following, slowly but surely. What does this have to do with privacy? Absolutely nothing. I thought that would be a good title to get you here. Just kidding. It has everything to do with privacy.
My friend Christal recently wrote about privacy and whether or not it is important anymore. She suggests that people appear as though privacy is no longer important to them because of how easily they share information through social media outlets. She then proposes a few questions to consider:
1. If we share so much online, are we really concerned if our neighbor snoops on us with an aerial drone camera?
2. Who are the people who fight for privacy the most? Celebrities and politicians? What are they hiding?
Yes, we share a lot, and I agree with Christal’s observation that we are social animals and tend to gravitate to one another in pack-like mentality. If you haven’t read her post yet, you probably should and then return to finish reading here. It’s like a pre-class assignment in school. Now that you have read your assignment, you did read it, right? Good. Now that you have read it you see that she was commenting on a radio show discussing the potential for civilian use of drones to spy on other people. The radio host didn’t think it was a big deal because everyone is sharing everything on the Internet. What?!
First of all, privacy doesn’t mean hiding something, it means reserving something. To be private is to reserve some part or portion of yourself or your family life or whatever, and keep it safe from the outside world. There is nothing dirty or bad about this. Some people may try to hide unfavorable things under the guise of privacy, but secrecy might be a better word for that. Maybe it is semantics. I can’t get away from those. Privacy and secrecy are different, and sharing personal information is different than having personal information obtained without your knowledge. In the first situation I am in control of my self, in the latter I am being manipulated and controlled by an external force.
Is there really any similarity between information sharing through social networking and information gathering through aerial drone video or audio recording? Absolutely. Consent is the difference. Another difference is what information is being shared or obtained. Actually in this case it is likely to be external information with both, only the interpretation is different.
If I create an online profile and share what movies and music I like, I am sharing what I do, but not so much who I am. Conclusions can be drawn, and it is probable that the way we share what we share indicates the type of person we want to be perceived as. Now in the case of snooping and spying, someone else might gather the same information, but the interpretation is up to them, not me. My neighbor may use his drone camera to hover outside my living room window and scan my DVD rack (jokes on him, we keep all of our DVDs in a binder, no cases to clutter the place up or be seen by snooping drones). From this information he can form an opinion of my personality. He may or may not be accurate, but I have no say in it. He can then misrepresent me, intentionally or not, if he so chooses. Honestly I can’t see where this scenario could possibly play out to anyone’s benefit, but the topic was generated and it interested me enough to start contemplating.
All I’m trying to say is that the lowering of privacy to share entertainment preferences online and the invasion of privacy through spy helicopter toys are not the same thing. I do worry, however, that the newer generations are losing awareness of this difference. Remember, what one generation abhors, the next tolerates and the third embraces. We may have witnessed a transition from abhor to embrace quicker than the saying suggests, thanks in part to social media and reality TV. I do believe privacy is still valued. I hope it is. But if individuals decide it isn’t then it won’t be long before society follows.