BASE, COMMON & POPULAR
Recently I went out to a bar with a dancing space to celebrate a friend’s birthday. And indeed we friends danced, drank and toasted our principal guest’s happy occasion.
We also took pictures-lots and lots of pictures. My sister had her digital camera, my friend had his iPhone with its camera application, and several others had their phones with cameras. As a result, everyone who got down and boogied-myself included-was not merely photographed, but several times from several angles. Within a day these photos were all over the social networking sites, especially Facebook. Even though I didn’t object to these photos, I felt a bit unnerved.
Welcome to Little Big Brothers. Instead of a single Big Brother: one gigantic entity monitoring your every move; now it seems that everyone with a recording device can follow you everywhere and tell everyone else about it.
I realize that technology has helped to make each one of us into mini-celebrities. While it is great for reaching out and networking, I am thinking of the downside of losing one’s privacy. What provoked this?
First of all, it seems like a change in the mores. Because Generation Yers and younger have grown up with the Internet and social networking (the way we “geezers” grew up with TV), they are less self-conscious about losing a private identity-they’ve never had one. It’s another symptom of our celebrity culture; since being famous has become such a desired position, it matters more that one is famous than how one is well known.
Of course notoriety itself is nothing new. Back in 1927 Charles Lindbergh had been the first person to cross the Atlantic alone and nonstop in an airplane. Humorist Will Rogers couldn’t help but poke fun at the celebrity culture of that day. Rogers quipped, “Lindbergh’s great feat demonstrated…that a person could still get the entire front pages without murdering anybody.” Anyone who has seen the musical Chicago or the O. J. Simpson trial gets this joke.
But there is another cause. Even before 9-11, people have signed away their privacy due to security concerns. That’s why most people have gone along with the “nudie show” examinations, or the full body pat downs in airports with barely a squawk (it could also be because most people are closet exhibitionists, but I’ll leave that alone). It seems that getting felt up, by an airport security guard or by a nighclub bouncer has become part and parcel of contemporary life. That is, unless you are going somewhere no one wants to go. In which case, you might as well stay home.
That’s about the only place that cameras are not trained on you. So far anyway.
New York December 1, 2010