As details have emerged about the story from The Guardian which “shocked” the world by revealing that the NSA had been collecting the phone records of millions of Americans and tracking their internet activity, something struck me—when did people suddenly start to care about their privacy?
Now I know it makes for a great headline to get people riled up and talking (because the government is a great boogeyman to fear), but to be honest, most of those I’ve talked to weren’t really bothered by this story.
Sure if you follow a lot of liberal blogs, Facebook pages or Twitter accounts you’d think the world was coming to an end. But in the real world, outside of the internet, most people either didn’t care or knew it was happening anyway.
After all, isn’t this basically what the Patriot Act has been—a tool the government can use to push the envelope when it comes to our Fourth Amendment rights? After 12 years, suddenly now people want to act shocked?
Besides, when did people start caring about their privacy again? Have these people seen Facebook? Twitter? YouTube? Google+? Instagram?
I can’t pull up my Facebook these days without seeing a barrage of self portraits (seemingly the same picture over and over again of the same people) just taken at different angles or with different Instagram themes. I know who many of these individual’s family members are because they’re tagged in a special section under “Family.” I know about quite a few of my “Facebook friends” frequently fluctuating “relationship statuses,” and it isn’t out of the norm to know if some of these people actually took a shower today. Because trust me, they’ll tell me if, and when, they did.
That’s if the pictures of their dinner haven’t overwhelmed my Facebook wall to the point where all of the other information gets pushed aside. Did you know Jenny ate a meatball sub for dinner last night? Well, I do. Without that knowledge I might not have been able to sleep last night.
Hell, I know where people are without even talking to them. It’s easy. People seem to enjoy tagging themselves damn near everywhere. Not just a random location, the exact location where they currently are. Oh, you’re at the gym right now? The one on Main Street and Fifth? That. Is. Fan—tastic. Hopefully nobody on your Facebook list of friends is a stalker. Because, everyone on your Facebook is a close personal friend, right? All 400 (or more) of them I bet. Quick, list 400 different names—I dare you.
And if Facebook isn’t your thing, there’s always the other options. Hashtag yourself away on Instagram or Twitter, or try and become an internet celebrity by posting a few videos on YouTube.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people don’t have legitimate concerns about the possibility of the government tracking phone records. It’s a discussion I think needs to be had because enough Americans are concerned about the issue.
I just find it a little ironic that in this day and age where people willfully and publicly parade themselves, their food and their locations all over the internet—suddenly people are in an uproar over their privacy.