Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Call For Privacy

Privacy intersects with the Internet in two ways: fanatical people screaming about other people violating our privacy, and fanatical people violating the privacy of others.

I don't see how you can ramble on about government databases, needless registrations, aggregated visitor information, and so on, and then pound away at youtube and break.com to view and pass around every embarrassing moment in the private lives of other people, and not only stars, but the accidents of plain folk whose video legacy is now going to haunt them for the rest of their lives.

One would think that a respect for individual privacy would translate into action. If you don't want other people prying into every detail about your life that they can get their electronic hands on, how can you justify doing the same?

Anyone with even minimal good manners has learned to turn a deaf ear and blind eye to certain things that occur to everyone, with the polite fiction that they didn't notice these occurrences. While some curiosity about the normal lives of very public figures could at least be understood (not condoned), where is your excuse in watching some unknown person caught doing something humiliating in public or private, and then worse, passing it on for others to see and enjoy? Would you want someone gleefully leering at your mother or father, or sister or son doing the same?

We have moved beyond the amusing blooper of an actor forgetting his line and having a good laugh on the set. We're now just being mean and disgraceful. We are destroying lives for cheap laughs. And worse, people are now actively seeking out others to secretly tape and humiliate for a few moments of publicity or cash.

If we can't respect others' privacy, how can we demand that others respect ours?

There's more than enough seriously amusing, touching, or engrossing material around the web that we don't need to view or encourage others to violate other people's privacy.


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