Is Anything Private Anymore?

I have an interesting example that just happened to me the other night that I can relate to privacy and surveillance. I was at my friend’s house and he had asked me if I had heard, or downloaded a new app called “House Party”. If you liked the privacy of a phone call and FaceTime, then you would not like the app House Party. Basically, what house party is, is a group FaceTime app. I believe you can have up to eight people within the chat. The catch is that the app isn’t private. You can be having a conversation with your friends and then out of nowhere and icon appears in the top saying “Stranger Danger! So and so is joining the party”. Then whoever is joining the party joins even though you might have no clue who this person is. The app basically enhances facetiming where you can have more than one person on a chat, but at the same time, adds a chat roulette type of feel to the entire environment.

This app is growing quickly and it makes me wonder if our society even wants privacy anymore. We are so addicted to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat that we literally document everything that we do on a daily basis. Some people more than others, but it is very hard for people to stay completely off the grid while remaining a functioning member of society. My father is probably as off the grid as one can be. He hates the thought that anyone can find out where you are with social media. He doesn’t have a single account. He gets angry when I post his photos online, and his job finally forced him to get his own email.

He has been working his entire life in the same line of work without an email address. People don’t know how he gets around, but somehow he manages. We got him an amazon tablet for Christmas two years ago, and he is amazed at all of its functions. By all of its functions in his mind are Words with Friends and The Boston Globe. Those are the only two things he will use his kindle for. He made my mother use her email address to set it up because he didn’t want to be on “the list” whatever that means and he has the front camera taped up so nobody can spy on him. I’ll admit, he is very paranoid when it comes to privacy. He does not want to be noticed in the public eye. What I don’t understand is why he does not accept that this is how we function now. He refuses to adapt to his surroundings. I’m not sure whether it is just that he is a stubborn old man, or if that this is how he was raised to be. Privacy used to mean a lot to people. My grandfather was pretty private as well so it would make sense if my dad would inherit those traits. I feel like I started out pretty cautious online when it started to become an everyday event. As the years went on and technology became more advanced, I have definitely logged completely on. I am prominent on all social media platforms. I would say I am even addicted to the point where if I don’t have my phone with me, I go nuts. I want to see and hear people’s reactions to my posts. I have a complete disregard for privacy to the point where I send photos of myself and tag the location.

People know exactly where I am at all times and I don’t feel as worried as I really should be. Another thought that I had was the reactions to the NSA leaks by Snowden. When I heard about them, I really didn’t think much of it. I am broadcasting myself online constantly so why would it matter if someone was listening to me. That is why I found it confusing for people to be upset that the government was listening in on phone calls. Now, I completely agree that they shouldn’t be. It is a complete invasion of privacy. Like I stated earlier though, our private life is slowly, but surely, morphing into our public life.

Even though my father is very unplugged, he still has started to take slow baby steps into this sphere with his kindle and email. The ideas channel brought up whether we can truly never really stay offline. The fact that Russian surveillance cameras are put on the cars of the public is astounding. While Russia might be a bit more strict with surveillance, here in the United States, we still have cameras watching at all times. If you are walking down the streets of Boston, you are guaranteed to see a camera watching. I think that the real reasoning for my father being so private is that he has had to adjust to the surveillance culture. It wasn’t always known that you were being watched. For me on the other hand, I have basically grown up with this concept of Big Brother my entire life and have just accepted it.