Thursday, September 5, 2013

Did We Ever Have Privacy?

This Was Pinned in 2007!
Over the past few weeks I think Americans, or rather the citizens of the United States (because the Brazilians are mad as hell over being spied on and consider themselves Americans too) and the rest of the world has been having hot and heavy discussion about what privacy means. After listening to President Obama, I am beginning to wonder if he knows what privacy means. Seeing the movie THE BUTLER, it makes me wonder if any president since the 20th Century has even known that?

Following a rather intense discussion with my wife, I then heard on the radio that the State of California is considering suing Google over privacy concerns. It appears they too are doing their share of spying. Each email you write is checked for "keywords" that are then sold to advertisers to send us email soliciting things we might be interested in buying. NOW I know where this junk comes from. If you mention you bought a pair of do the math and the deleting. As an Advertising Journalism major, we could only dream of things like that in 1967. Gosh!

When asking Google for images that have to do with privacy this cartoon came up. What makes it so amazing was that it was created in 2007, LOOOOONG before Snowden. But then George Orwell wrote about that in 1984 or Huxley in ANIMAL FARM or for that matter C.S. Lewis. As my wife pointed out they knew things about us in the 1800's and I am sure they were pretty good during the Reformation, the Renaissance, The Roman Empire and back to the beginning of civilization. A casual reading of the Bible even gives you more than enough clues about who was doing what to whom!

The dream of privacy is, well, ephemeral. We probably have never had it and for every step that we take to make it so, about 10 steps are taken to make it less so. I find it fascinating that the two greatest democracies in the world, The United Kingdom and The United States have, we now know, the most sophisticated surveillance systems in the world! While we were pointing our fingers at China, we were in fact, doing as much and far, far more!

If you live in Los Angeles, it has been called the loneliest city in the world. Everyone comes here to escape. It is often rare that neighbors know much about each other. In fact, the less the better.  Think about it. If you are from the midwest and lived in a small town, even larger ones, you were known to all. You were under a kind of microscope. If you were uncomfortable with that, for any reason, you fled here. I can remember my first days in college. I came from Portland, OR to Stillwater, OK, home of Oklahoma State University. The first question they asked was your name, the second, what church you went to. THAT was the great divider. You were a believer OR you were a heathen and it was their duty to save you. Baptist's didn't dance or play cards, Methodists didn't dance...and on and on. For someone from the West Coast, it was like entering another time. Cotton Mather anyone?

We visited my best friend in college who now lived in Tulsa, OK while taking our daughter college shopping. She was interested in a college in Memphis. He asked her are you sure? Yes, she said. Well, he said, you know that Memphis is the buckle. The buckle? Yes, he answered, the buckle of the Bible belt. We all had a good laugh at that. My daughter, born and raised in the Methodist Church was sure she could handle it. Turns out she wasn't fond of the church at all. The church she had known in California was nothing like the church in Tennessee.

So there have always been spies, or snoops or whatever. We can't escape them and I guess we never will. Maybe, just maybe by just knowing that we will lead better lives. Let's hope so and those that don't well, lets hope that with all this surveillance, they get caught!

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