Okay, I admit to being a techno junkie, but there are times it just goes too far. Two weeks ago I was trying on a bathing suit in a large chain store dressing room when I looked up to see one of those signs warning me that the dressing room is under surveillance. Me. . . naked as a jaybird. . . one foot in a spandex torture chamber and the other poised to join it. . . when I realized that somebody, somewhere was watching a bank of security cameras and probably falling on the floor in laughter. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Then last night as I was in Target waiting at the pharmacy, I looked up and spotted a rank of security cameras that looked like German pillboxes on the ceiling. Not one or two, mind you, but at least a dozen ringing the pharmacy. . . all I could think was “must. . . not. . . scratch. . .”
What does it take to get a little privacy these days? I mean, a simple late night run to the convenience store for some M&Ms or a six pack. . . and suddenly you’re on the You Tube!
And then there are those fashion nazis who apparently hang out at WalMart with cameras and nothing better to do than take pictures of people who just wanted to dash in for a minute to pick up a few essentials. They did not ASK to be photographed and put on web sites and sent around in tasteless e-mails. Hmmm. Except maybe this guy. . .
But seriously. . . where can you go these days to get away from the cameras? Many workplaces have now installed cameras, not so much for external threats, but to spy on employees. Who filches office supplies? Who naps in their cubicle? Who starts the conga line through the cafeteria? Who is doing something they would PAY to keep a secret?
But it doesn’t stop there. People have embraced the “spy on you” culture to the point that they’re wiring up their homes. Nanny cams are the order of the day. You can’t even give your kid a sip of your beer without worrying that it’ll come up as evidence against you in a custody hearing! And then there are those lunatics who leave a nanny cam in their house to see what their pets are doing all day. The only thing dumber than setting up a camera to record what your pet is doing is going through hours and hours of nap-chew-sniff-lick-nap every night! But there are times when pets and actual nannies do interact and, I have to admit, that footage may be priceless someday.
Here in Florida, everybody is jumping on the red-light camera band wagon. They’re going to photograph cars who run red lights and issue tickets based on the camera evidence. You have to pay or you’ll be hauled into court. My personal thought is, they’ll just get millions of photos like this:
Anyway, it just seems to me that life is getting waaaaay too public. And despite all those crime shows where security camera footage helps to catch the bad guys, I’m not convinced that all of this spying and surveiling is necessary. . . much less good. I mean, you ought to be able to go out for a drive without being watched or penalized for making a “pink” light. Right? I guess this means we’ll just have to make our cars as anonymous as possible. . .
I’m resigned to big brother hanging over my shoulder all the time, I guess. But I don’t have to like it. I’d like to think there are still places you can go skinny dipping. Places you can let your hair go and take off that girdle without becoming an internet sensation. But those places seem to be fewer and further between these days.
You know, if I were WalMart, I’d be posting photographers along with the greeters at store entrances. . . offer to take a photo for free in exchange for being able to post it on MY web site. Then those strange folk who look so scary will be facing the cameras, smiling, and the promo would be dynamite. Good idea or lame one?
What do you think? Are we over-watched? Do you get those People of WalMart e-mails? What do you think of them? Do they give you a laugh or do they make you mad? Or is it the Jerry Springer phenomenon– where some people will do anything to get noticed and have their 15 minutes of fame?
And the biggest question of all: have you ever gone to a store in your pajamas? Come on, fess up. What’s the worst outfit you’ve ever been caught in?