The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors by Hal Niedzviecki
The above quote is from the CEO of Sun Microsystems. And it's more than a little scary.
Do you know how Big Brother uses your information? How everything you reveal about yourself, from applying for those discount cards at supermarkets to Googling terms to everything you write anywhere online is stored and used?
Hal Niedzviecki has a whole lot of information on that. More than you may want to know.
Careers, or job interviews, have been ruined by drunken and otherwise questionable photos on Facebook. Comments on blogs have resulted in lost jobs. Nude photos teens take intended for a limited audience wind up in hundreds of unanticipated places.
A lot of this is just, plain stupidity. These people, you'll say, should have known better. And that's true. They should have. But these aren't the only instances in which your information is constantly being collected. Every time you give your social security number, any account information, your address, your phone number, etc., you can never be sure how far that goes. Even your address, pictures of your house. They're out there. My husband Googled our house and found he could look at it from 360 degrees. All the way around the house. Just a little disconcerting.
We're not doing anything wrong, like the majority of Americans who say as long as they're on the straight and narrow, why should they care? For lots of reasons. First, identity theft. Then, mistaken identity. You can be tracked by anyone, anytime. GPS devices are in most new cell phones. Anyone with any motive could stick a tracking device in your car, on your phone. Anywhere. Pinhole cameras are cheap and easily, and could be installed anywhere. It's not just those traffic cameras you already know about, which are, some would argue, a violation unto themselves.
Scary, isn't it?
Everytime you Google a term, every book you look at either at Amazon or anywhere else, every review you write, every, single word or visit anywhere online. It's being tracked. Never mind if your reasons were harmless. Taken out of context, who knows what someone else may suppose?
At the same time, we actively seek out online communities. In an age when Americans are becoming increasingly insulated, moving farther away from family and connecting less with friends and neighbors, we're busily chatting with people via Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and all manner of other sites. The author writes:
"Were not afraid of the surveillance state. … We're afraid of the moments, when, unobserved, unrecorded and un-exhibited, we virtually disappear. It's for this reason that we have become so enthusiastic about Peep culture. … In a postmodern society that turns everything into an endless recording, abswence is the ultimate terror. We embrace surveillance because we're terrified of disappearing "without a trace."
That's not equally true. I think this applies more to young people, those who feel compelled to text friends nearly 24 hours a day, than those like me, who, with a job and family don't have the same need to be in constant contact. In fact, I hardly ever answer my cell phone, unless I see a family member is calling. Anyone else can leave a message, and I read it when I have the chance. The same's true of my home phone. We have caller ID, so we're insulated from people we don't know, sales calls, etc. Even if it's someone I know I don't always pick up. That's what voicemail is for. But for other people? The need to be connected and available is often uncontrollable.
"All our lives we feel watched. But that sense of being overseen gives us no comfort. We're watched by doctors, teachers, officials, the tax man. And they in turn are watched. And those who watch them are watched. … surveillance never seems to show only what is needed, or just what is wanted. It infiltrates our world view and entices us to go further than we intended."
Fascinating stuff. Scary, but fascinating. This is a highly enjoyable read. You may be afraid to be read it, but I think everyone should. You should know the facts, then think about how your actions have repercussions. You never know when or how they'll come back on you, whether innocent or guilty.
This book provides so much real life information, such thoughtful musings, on contemporary "peep" culture and how it defines modern society. It left me wanting to know more, and I'm already reading more on the topic. I'm already "out there," all over the place. It's too late for me to keep that cat in the bag, but I can control what I write and what photos I post. And now, I know to be doubly careful about anything I do lest it come back to haunt me. That's a lesson useful to us all.