Given my professional meanderings and predilection for toys, I can’t tell you how great it is to be alive during a time when personal technology is exploding at an exponential pace. Who’d a thunk I’d wear something on my wrist that records my runs, thousands of my favorite songs would be stored somewhere in the ether, and that the device clipped to my side would be far more powerful than my first PC could have ever dreamed of.
But as two recent news stories suggest, as it is with any kind of advance, the potential pitfalls of those very same devices can be even more hazardous than their intended beneficial utility.
And our first story is the unfortunate iCloud hack and subsequent posting of various and sundry nude female celebrity photos. Of course, the immediate reaction of those aggrieved women was that these heinous hackers who invaded their privacy should be summarily strung up by specific body parts.
Even CNN got into the act by asking us not to blame these unfortunate women whose right to privacy was so brutally stripped away by the least common denominator among us.
Of course, my first reaction was, “You put nude photos on the cloud?” And my second reaction was, “Isn’t invading privacy exactly what hackers generally do?”
Please don’t get me wrong, the issue is not that these personal photographs exist. Though I do sometimes think it’s a sign these young stars fall prey to the notion that women are nothing more than the sum of their body parts.
That said, when you consider just how unkind the deleterious effects of gravity and childbirth can be on the fairer sex – and if I looked anything like Jennifer Lawrence – perhaps I would want to have some sort of remembrance of days done by.
But I wouldn’t take ‘em with a cell phone, I wouldn’t put on a computer that’s ever attached to the Internet, and I certainly wouldn’t put ‘em up on the cloud at a time when simply swiping a credit card at any major retailer is even riskier than marrying into the Wallenda family.
So what I don’t get is the vast celebrity outrage, general gnashing of teeth, and strange proclamations over something so eminently foreseeable. Since no one’s died or lost all their worldly possessions as a result, let’s move on.
Our second story involves a CEO who, while taking care of a friend’s dog, decided that kicking the hapless animal was the appropriate course of action. Of course we would’ve been none the wiser had not the incident occurred in a hotel elevator complete with its own security camera.
And sure enough, someone submitted the video to the Vancouver SPCA and it went on to get more hits that the those now infamous nude photos.
The CEO tried to explain his way out of it by claiming he was frustrated with the Doberman puppy and said the “incident” was “utterly out of character.” But isn’t what you do whenever you think no one’s watching the surest sign of your real character?
In this case the outrage was justified and our intrepid CEO did not survive the fallout.
Not even the police seem to have figured this one out yet, but the bottom line is, unless you’re in the privacy of your own home (and not even then if you have a suspicious spouse), it always pays to assume you’re on camera.
Given the proliferation of these electronic eyes, it would be best to follow the sage advice of the great Joe Torre. When the baseball manager was asked why he never lost his cool during a game, he replied that he always behaved as if his grandmother was watching.
So while I certainly love my Garmin, the Amazon Cloud, and my Galaxy Note 3, there certainly seems to be a tradeoff between that kind of technological power and our “right” to privacy. And for better or worse, it’s privacy that seems to be losing.