Privacy is an interesting word these days.

We sure like to think, in the U.S., we still have it. When you think about it enough, though, that idea is more for the “idealists.” It’s the price we pay for the convenience, even the luxury of living in this ever-evolving digital reality.

My husband and I were leaning up against a building in downtown Nashville, weary after a day full of exploring. As the sun starts to go down on what’s known as Honky Tonk Row, on a beautiful fall Friday night. The party spirit is building and we’re taking it all in while people watching hoping to get our second wind. Our attention turns to two young women walking toward us having a ball. They laugh, yell, stumble, flail their arms with animation. Both are clearly drunk, one much more than the other.

“Hey, hey, y’all…” the more intoxicated one starts yelling, then starts singing at the top of her lungs something no one can make out while jumping up and down, with a few lewd gestures mixed in, right in the middle of the crazy, busy sidewalk.

For some reason they decide to stop in front of us as if they’ve decided to visit us. The less intoxicated one takes her place against the building next to my husband.

“Where are you guys from?” she asks, striking up conversation full of energy we hope will rub off on us. 

We always enjoy meeting people while we’re traveling. As we chat with her, we learn a few interesting things like where they’re from, that they’re sisters, and that they’re in town for the other sister to get certified as a personal trainer. We also find out this less drunk sister, is a nurse and, ummmm, is supposed to be the responsible one this night. She’s certainly charming. While we’re chatting, her sister is practically knocking people off the sidewalk with her “show.”

“Looks like you have your hands full,” I say jokingly, nodding toward sis, understanding all too well, we all have our moments.

“Yep,” she shakes her head as we all chuckle.

Then, a quick snap from really drunk sis, who apparently heard, and didn’t like what I said, “Hey bitch…you only live once!”

She grabs the arm of “responsible sis” and they skip along on their way down the sidewalk and across the street quickly becoming the center of attention of everyone they pass. 

My husband and I look at each other thinking the same thing, “…if it were only that simple.”

The Reality She Doesn’t Realize

Truth is, this young woman was being video recorded from multiple angles, by multiple cameras. Some with their cell phones even following her to document her antics. Her idea of “you only live once,” strikes home with me. I thought that too, with my public antics a few years ago which ended up turning my life upside down. With all these cameras on this young woman, that way of thinking could so easily come back to haunt her when she least expects it. All it takes is one person to post this “only live once” moment online for it to potentially jeopardize her hopes and dreams for years to come. 

What happens in Vegas, (or Nashville, or your own street) should no longer be something you assume stays there. Who knew it would come to this? Who knew there’d be a day when everything you do, including every bad decision you make, every regrettable word you utter would have the potential to go viral, to be representative of you in the cyber world, which easily translates to the real world. No one thinks it’s going to happen to them, oh, but, (listen up, drunk sis) it happens, more than most of us realize, and when it does, too often the consequences can be, mildly put, downright unbearable. We hear, again and again, how cybershaming can be life changing, life ruining, even life ending for too many.

Not long ago your worst moments would’ve been just that— “moments” that drifted away with time—but now, with a click of the mouse, they can resurface for the world to witness again and again, forever!

Take It From An Expert

“There’s no privacy on the outside, once you leave your home,” says veteran security expert Tim Dimoff. He should know. In addition to twenty years in law enforcement, he’s been in the private security business an additional twenty, running a high-profile company based in Akron, Ohio, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services.

Click to watch interview with Tim Dimoff

 

As we stroll through downtown Akron, he points out, in the ten feet we’ve covered, we’ve probably appeared on four to six cameras, some we can see, many we can’t. He stresses if your skirt blows up, or you fall down or you spit on the sidewalk, it’s all being captured multiple times. While you’d like to think those who possess the video will be responsible with it, there’s no guarantee.

Make no mistake, Dimoff firmly believes there are more pros than cons regarding security cameras, as far as deterring and solving crime. He admits, however, there needs to be stricter policies regarding what happens with the video, and who sees it. 

“Everything has the ability to be abused until you define it clearly,” he stresses, “… you are inevitably going to see lawsuits filed that releasing that footage did not serve the purpose of that camera.”

Possibilities are endless as far as where surveillance cameras are positioned, streets, stores, elevators, restaurants, gas pumps, at the park, the gym, the workplace, your neighbor’s house, even at church. In fact, there are estimates we make cameos 50 to 75 times a day, from that regular morning coffee stop, to making that sales call, to a quick grocery store run, to picking up the kids from soccer and everything in between (source IPVM.com). One Google Consumer Survey proves how much we underestimate the moments we are “caught on camera” as the majority who respond guess a measly four, yes, four times!

Wait. There’s more.

Sure, voyeurism comes to mind on this topic which has more power and venom now than ever, just ask Erin Andrews of ESPN and Dancing With The Stars, or do a search of hidden cameras in public restrooms. EEK! Then, think about it, you never know what that person at the other end of the bar, or down the grocery store aisle is doing with their phone pointed in your direction. Are they texting, maybe emailing? Or, do they see something about you, they want to document, and perhaps share with the world, like your zipper is down, your toupee is falling off…or worse. A lot to think about, right?

Tim Dimoff makes it very clear, anything that happens in public is no longer ever private, a warning to heed. Comes down to this, even what you think is private is no longer guaranteed private, if you’re not careful.

This is where another level of privacy violation comes in; one that can be so personal and happens way too often in private places or during what should be private moments. It’ll happen when pictures of you are taken, even with your permission, to document what you believe will be a good memory with people you trust. I think of house parties even, where “friends” will snap away with their cell phones. We’ve all been there. It’s all meant in fun, all meant for the moment. All it takes, though, is one wrong image of someone shared on the wrong social media site for that “fun” to take a turn for the worst. Could be enough to end a tradition, end a friendship or relationship, end a career.

Do you know there are websites designed solely to display pictures of women who are drunk or passed out? Who knows how they get those pictures. It could be anything from a breach of trust to exploitation of what’s found on lost or stolen phones.

I sure hope that young woman in Nashville doesn’t have to learn the hard way that putting privacy to the test is like riding your bike in front of that home with the vicious dog that’s supposed to be tied up one too many times. 

Not that I want to make anyone paranoid (although,a little paranoia when it comes to our technology isn’t that bad of an idea), she made me contemplate how many of us are unaware of something I wish we didn’t have to be so aware of. It’s one of those prices we pay for technology. Until there’s more regulation regarding the Internet though, so much for privacy. 

For more on Tim Dimoff and his services: https://sacsconsulting.com/about-us/

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