Protection vs. Surveillance

In symposium this week, the idea of protection vs. surveillance was brought up in regard to what we post online. I’ve actually been hearing a lot about that from my family and friends lately, and it got me thinking about it even more. In class the other day, my friend Gemma was showing me how her Instagram geotags are so accurate they break her house up into rooms. So essentially, I can click on a photo and figure out which room of the house is her bedroom, just from her Instagram. This past weekend when I was in the country, my uncle told me he has a GPS tracker app that allows him to track my aunties phone. In theory it’s a good idea, because she trains for iron mans and takes a fair amount of 20k runs, but it was creepy when he picked up his mobile and said ‘Oh, she’s stopped for a drink of water,”. Uncle Steve, if you’re reading this, it’s only okay to check that app if she’s gone missing for a couple of hours.

So when did our social media take this leap into creepiness? It probably happened a while ago, I just didn’t take notice. Which is strange, because if I’m meeting someone for the first time in the physical world, I am instinctively suspicious and have strict rules. There will be good lighting, lots of other people around, I will get myself there and back (no getting in cars with strangers), and multiple friends and family members will know where I’m going, when I plan to be home, and everything I know about the person I’m meeting. I was raised in America, I was taught to expect rapists and kidnappers around every corner. So why am I (and many of my peers) so much less guarded when it comes to telling everyone on the internet my every location?
I think this comes from growing up surrounded by so much technology. Everyone uses it, everyone does it, how can it be dangerous? And when you account for the films and television shows that fictionalise and trivialise someone using technology for those purposes, it makes it more clear as to why we’re flippant about it.
But the question remains; if someone was following you down the street, tracking your every move, you’d call the police, right? Why is giving someone the opportunity to do the same thing in a virtual sense okay? From RSVPing to public events on Facebook, to allowing geotags on Instagram and Twitter, we’re opening ourselves up to potentially unwanted attention.
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