A few days after installing a security camera in my shed, I gave my buddy Stan a call.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Where are you doing it?”
“I can see you.”
“How? You are in Florida.”
“Crank your head over to the two o:clock position, look up and say ‘hi’ to my internet enabled security camera.”
“So what are you stealing out of my shed?”
He sounded deeply hurt. “I happen to be dropping something off.”
“Do either you or I own the something you are dropping off?”
“Yeah, and that is why I installed a camera in my shed.”
Now he sounded offended. “You are violating my privacy.”
“Not in my shed, I’m not.”
“What if I were picking my nose or scratching my butt?” he asked, “would you want someone watching you do that?”
“In my shed or somewhere else?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
There is more than a grain of truth in what Stan is saying because security cameras capture more than what is needed for security. Even when you are doing something you shouldn’t, there are still basic expectations of privacy – if what you are doing is done in private.
That may sound odd, but it is why you won’t find security cameras in lavatories or dressing rooms, even though a whole lot of what goes on there, shouldn’t. We still give it a pass. We do so because the right to privacy means the right to protect our intimacies from the prying eyes of the world – even if what we are doing is not completely savory.
This balance between privacy and security is an interesting question that is still being worked out.
But privacy is the not the direction the world is going.
With the ubiquity of surveillance cameras and the oversharing of social media, absolutely nothing is forgotten and nothing is ever forgiven.
Within the last year, a half dozen careers have gone down in flames over something inappropriate done years and in some cases decades ago.
One would hope that within certain limits, the right to be an idiot would be coupled with the right to forgotten about and one would think that in a world where everyone lives in a glass house, no one would throw rocks, but sadly the effect is the exact opposite; with all too many believing that by some special grace they will not get hit or at least not hit that hard.
I am not sure why they would think that because one can never ingratiate oneself with a lynch mob and mobs only lose their fervor once they have consumed their leaders.
I would rather live in a world where jerks are allowed to be jerks than in one constantly on the prowl for them – and even more frightening is the remorseless world forever on the hunt for new definitions of what it is to be a jerk.
We are all jerks at one time or another and if you can show me someone who has never been a jerk, I can show you someone so anal that whatever they are holding back stinks to high heaven.
So if the statute of limitations on bank robbery is only five years, why is it like forever on yearbooks?
I thought deeply about this before installing my surveillance cameras and planned ahead accordingly.
A few days after I caught Stan, I found myself ensnared in my own trap.
“Explain this,” my wife said as she handed me her phone. “Take note at the 45 second mark.”
I recognized the app.
“I won’t try to explain,” I told her, “but let me show you what I have. Pay attention to what you are doing at about two minutes in.”
We still have security cameras.
….but we never, ever, look at them.