Recently I stopped by a local bar/restaurant to purchase some wings to go. The door was locked even though the facility was open and people were dining. I was told I had to go to the bar side to enter. To buy wings, I asked? Yes, she said, it’s a new policy.
How did we get to this point? When purchasing items at stores, I’ve noticed, you have to add your ZIP code, and in some case supply your email address. If you attempt to buy compressed air or scales, you will be carded.
There has been a chipping way of our privacy that has been progressive. Most of our public life is being watched, recorded and/or monitored. Walk down streets, and security cameras capture images. Visit restaurants, business establishments and food/supplies warehouses, and your movements are recorded and monitored. Even now, drones monitor our skies and can capture real-time information at street level.
Social networking has also provided a platform for more than just information sharing. It allows us to bring what is private to the public. Now we are hearing that our government is spying on its citizens, data mining phone records of Americans to be stored and used at a later date if needed.
But is all this an attempt to keep us safe, to prevent crime, to be proactive? Television news, and cable talk shows bombard viewers with 911 tapes, cellphone videos, amateur photos, taped messages and so on.
Everything is caught on tape ... fights/bullying on school buses, fights between teacher and students, assaults on public streets and subways, shootouts with gunmen holding hostages and the all-too-familiar car chases, crashes and police takedowns. It’s no wonder stories about crimes, prisons, gangs and violence draw huge ratings. Look closely at the most popular video games, and you will see that same trend.
While websites of national news organizations feature the celebrity video breakdown of the week, others highlight secret doings of this person or that group. And the public can’t seem to get enough of it.
The bottom line is we never know who’s watching, recording or listening to us. Nor do we know what they actually are doing or going to do with the data. I believe security, technology and prevention are keys to safety and freedom. Our system of checks and balances, however, leaves a lot to be desired.