used to work with a friend that had to print everything. The best
summary… she would do whatever she could to avoid reading something
on a computer screen.
claimed it was because she didn’t always have time to read everything
while she was on a computer during work hours, and by printing
it she could read things during dinner or even in the odd fifteen
seconds of down time that might surprisingly arrive. I think there
was more to it than that -- she didn’t like or trust computers
to begin with as one thought to consider -- but… whatever… not
the important part.
-- if you sent her a message with your phone number asking her
to call when she got a chance… printed.
you sent her a note that suggested an agenda for an upcoming meeting
and asked for her to review it and provide feedback… printed.
you sent her information about a disciplinary matter… printed.
so on. Until we get to the funny part of her story, which involves
how she would often generate a stack of papers and then forget
to pick them up from the printer.
where this is going? In part, when you put something in writing
you lose control over it.
reality though is that we aren’t just talking about putting things
in writing any longer. Quite honestly… more to today and the electronic
age… is “Big Brother” watching you?
in fact, to take one more step away, the real question isn’t whether
or not you’re being watched. That’s one of those hiding in the
back, secondary issues. Simply because the answer is, you are.
real question -- or even more precisely, questions -- involve
how often you’re being watched… what you’re doing while being
watched… and whether or not you recognize that you’re being watched
friend from the opening? I know she never considered the content
of what she was printing and whether or not another person would
collect the paperwork from the printer. Her intentions were pure.
And yes, on more than one occasion, the wrong set of eyes landed
on material they should not have seen.
us to continue along our efforts here though, let’s take something
as wonderful as a cell phone. Consider…
one – Do you have your cell phone on? Then chances are very good
that somewhere there is a record being made of where that phone
is… and, by default, also likely is where you are with it.
no… not what numbers you call, how long you talked, or such trivial
matters. (Though sure, all of that is there to be tracked.) What
I’m talking about is physically where you are.
your phone into a plastic bag, wrap it in a hunk of meat, and
somehow get an alligator to swallow the thing, and there’s a good
chance you could track that alligator until your battery died.
(Not that I am in any way advocating feeding alligators or testing
the range and limits of your cell phone.)
two – You of course have heard about phones being hacked and materials
being stolen, right? No need to fill you in on celebrities caught
with their knickers in compromising locations, correct? (Simple
enough with that one.)
there are just two basic ideas. They know where you are… and they
can access what you do… and you may never know who “they” are.
Schrems wanted to know how much information Facebook had about
him. So about a year ago he requested information from a time
frame of roughly three years. Turned out they had more than 1,200
pages on him. (If you wrote your autobiography, how many pages
would it be? Ok… now… again… just the Facebook part of Max’s life
consisted of well over one thousand pages, including some material
he recalled deleting.)
seen this statistic provided… with roughly the same numbers… for
a few different countries, and it turns out that the description
of people being caught on closed-circuit cameras hundreds of times
a day not only seems unrealistic, it likely is unrealistic and
just urban-legend being told again and again. Still, get this
one: “the real figure for the number of times the average person
is likely to be ‘caught’ on CCTV in a day is less than 70.”
more time… the real figure for the number of times the average
person is likely to be ‘caught’ on CCTV in a day is less than
you sleep for eight hours… and spend another six hours in your
home… that means you are outside of your house for 10-hours each
day. Yes? Good. According to that estimate of “less than 70” times,
you will end up on camera about 7 times per hour.
you would like to dispute those numbers, then check out the parking
lot of the movie theater… the area around the ATM… the ceiling
in your grocery store… and get back to me. The cameras are everywhere.
is being collected by your cell phone, the internet, cameras,
and much more. And that’s just the surface of some very deep waters.
e-mail first began taking off in the workplace, I recall very
quickly realizing that once I clicked “send” on a message, there
was little I could to do to stop it from being forwarded, or sent
someplace else, or in any of many ways prevent it from being used
with my control.
send… say goodbye.
as Max Schrems will likely tell you… there’s more to it.
articles began appearing about the brilliance of the Nigerian
Prince e-mail scam. You remember that one… right? Ok…
thrust of the essay was to point out that all those chest-thumping
geniuses that saw through the con didn’t matter. At all. Because
chances are they weren’t going to send money in the first place.
the was a real brilliance to the effort, and it was found in its
you were smart enough to see it, then you wouldn’t send anything.
And, by not participating, you also likely wouldn’t raise any
attention, ask any questions, or cause any problems later on.
those not spotting it as a hoax, well they might just be dumb
enough to send actual money. And then later, also be embarrassed
enough to not want to admit it.
other words… the stupidity of the approach weeds out people, leaving
behind those we later see referred to as victims.
I’m not telling you any of this as some sort of amazing warning
or earth-shattering revelation. Most of this you either knew already
or could easily have figured out.
I brought you through that to bring you to this… a bit of advice.
ago… quite literally decades ago… I was reading an article about
writing. And in between some very good, slightly off-center tips
was this nugget. (I’m quoting from memory, so forgive me if it
isn’t exact, and also forgive that I don’t recall the source.)
put anything in writing that you wouldn’t put in a love letter.”
this world of people leaving your words for anyone to see… of
visual evidence of your every move… of histories of your every
location… of people trying to take advantage of you… take a moment,
and consider that again…
put anything in writing that you wouldn’t put in a love letter.”
I mean really think about that.
I’m a big supporter of the idea that writing a letter in anger
that you never send is a great way of recovering from an emotional
moment. Get it out and work it out.
also worry about whether or not -- as I take my place in the window
to observe the world -- is someone looking back through the window
at me? (Take that as literally and figuratively as you need to.)
with that thought what you will.