Isn’t The Hand-Wringing Over “Surveillance” Now Performative?

Seems that way in a lot of cases, honestly.

Ted Bauer

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It feels often that people love to hand-wring about “surveillance” and “lack of privacy,” and yet many of those same people log onto TikTok — which is, breaking news, essentially controlled by China — and do dances and give data about how they look, where they are, when they’re bored, etc. I’ve met no fewer than 120 mothers in my life who will mention data and privacy and surveillance, yet blast their young kid’s face all over the social Internet before the kid can speak, much less consent to having his or her image used online. It feels like data and privacy and surveillance are things we discuss, but don’t actually care about. I’m speaking in the aggregate, as I do have friends who won’t enter the home of someone with an Alexa for fear of being recorded. Not kidding on that either.

This video does a good job of breaking it down:

Considering that Ring doorbell footage and body-cam police footage are now entire cottage industries on YouTube, often creating full-time jobs for the channel owners who push that stuff out, you could argue that surveillance has now become yet another channel of content, ostensibly with a desire for monetization. It’s hard to hand-wring about something that is also allowing you to buy fancy cheese, right?

The posting-pics-of-kids-before-they-can-speak thing is comical, and has been going on for generations (or at least 1–2), but the legal landscape around that may gradually shift over time:

In a work context, I’d say hand-wringing over employers surveiling you is valid, but you also have almost no recourse. It’s often their building and their property and they can do what they want. Now, the…

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Ted Bauer

Mostly write about work, leadership, friendship, masculinity, male infertility, and some other stuff along the way. It's a pleasure to be here.