Ever Changing Definition of Privacy

Cameras are pervasive. We carry them in our pockets. They’re posted to lamp posts and store fronts. Some people have them in and around their homes. Or attached to their doorbells. In some cases, they can be helpful. For example, the doorbell camera is useful for seeing who is at the door, or to view a package delivery. However, the more cameras we see around us, the more we normalize being on display 24/7.

Although I haven’t read about the impact of being around so many cameras non-stop, I believe this has altered our perception of privacy. Sometimes it feels as though there isn’t much left now that we can all be filmed anytime, anywhere, by anyone! Last year, on vacation, one of my family members started spontaneously dancing in front of a store to some music playing. I was enjoying the impromptu show. Then looked up to notice a stranger, stopped at a red light, whipping out his camera to film the dance moves, too. I immediately jumped in between to block the view.

The whole scene lasted only a few seconds, but left me feeling uncomfortable. All I kept thinking was that’s the kind of silly, random video that ends up on Tik Tok, Meta, or Instagram with some stupid caption. A random video of somebody having a bit of spontaneous fun, forever captured on the internet. Honestly, the sort of thing that doesn’t need recording.

I also kept thinking, there’s no way for us to protect ourselves from this happening. Anybody could take a picture of anyone without warning at a good time or at the worst time. We’re powerless to do anything about that. I always felt upset when my friends posted pictures of me on social media, even if they didn’t tag me. But then again, how could I ask them not to, especially if it was a group photo. It’s awkward to never be in group photos. Even avoiding group photos isn’t a guarantee your image won’t end up posted somewhere you don’t want it.

I don’t see there’s anyway to stop people from taking photos of what and who they want, when they want. But I do see future opportunities with AI to automatically start blurring people. Or maybe because it keeps happening all the time, people like me will normalize it and stop feeling so creeped out.

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