Friday, October 08, 2010

You Have the Right to Remain Silent


No matter how you pronounce it - with a short "i" like you're some kind of Brit or with a long "i" like the American slaughterers of the English language - we all want it. Expect it. Are incensed when our right to it is infringed.

But, let's face it, privacy is getting harder and harder to keep.

By our own faults mostly.

That's because most of us cannot resist the temptation to digitally record some of the most minute details of our lives...on social network sites, smartphones...ahem...blogs.

Each of us is leaving an immense digital "paper" trail that can, and likely will, be used against us in some manner at some point. Whether that's in a court of law during a divorce/custody/criminal trial1, during a work evaluation or, perhaps worse, a job interview, or causing jealous rifts in personal relationships2, there are major ramifications we are only just beginning to understand as digital technology spreads.

There's another problem though that's being caused, in my opinion, by this open flow of readily available information.

Have you ever been standing over the shoulder of a friend as they looked for a picture they took on their phone to show you and you saw something...ahem...of a "private" nature? Or did you ever try to "help" them by reaching out to advance to the next picture so you could see what was next?

Have you ever sat down at someone else's computer without permission and scanned their recent documents or peeked at their e-mail?

Have you ever deliberately attempted/succeeded at cracking the password or taken advantage of knowing the password to someone's e-mail just to see what was in there?

The fact is most of us have, in fact, whether intentionally or unintentionally, snooped into the private lives of our friends and loved ones.

Have you ever had it happen to you? Have ever found out that someone, especially someone you trusted, surreptitiously invaded your private space and saw something not meant for anyone's eyes but your own?

I have. And it sucked. It broke every level of trust we had for one another. She was furious at what I'd written in my private journal - a place I used to vent irrational emotion as a way to solve problems more rationally - and I was furious for her having the nerve to read it and then be pissed.

But because this journal wasn't hard bound and handwritten, kept instead in a folder on my computer, she felt as though she had the right to read it simply because I'd given her permission to use the printer attached to that computer.

Who was right?

Does it seem like digital files are fair game? Public domain? Even if they are password protected?

Is there a difference between finding the brass key and using it to unlock the personal diary of someone as opposed to cracking the password to invade their typed thoughts?

What I mean is are digital boundaries less important than physical ones?

At the Grotto, neither Lex nor I would ever consider sitting down at the other's computer...particularly unattended. And that's not about porn...because, you know, door closed = porn in progress and that's really not something either of us want to delve into on any level. But it is all about personal space, boundaries, and knowing how much of ourselves is kept digitally.

And I respect he respects we both respect each other's privacy.

I would no sooner snoop on his computer than I would snoop through his books or his closet. He, I am confident, also wouldn't do those things to me.

Because we respect each other and we respect each others boundaries.

The rest of you though?

Forgive me but, my blog is one thing...I intentionally write what I would have my mother read3...the rest of it is just for me and is none of your business.

Hence, if you're ever invited to the Grotto and want to use my computer, it will be only under supervision. Period. Not because I've written nasty things about you but because I've written things about myself no one else needs to know.

1: Oh yes, I most certainly did see that your only Facebook interest listed was "beer pong". How's that vehicular homicide charge treating you?

2: "I don't want you to be friends with her on your Facebook. Why is she commenting on all your pictures?"

3: Because she actually does. Hi, Mom! I love you! 9 more days! I cannot wait!

1 comment:

Teresa said...

Spectacular as usual!

It was great seeing you today and can't wait till you get back from your adventure. I am still jealous.