Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

June 25, 2013
Apathy over privacy breach is no surprise

Once upon a time, the American public — who had, some 40 years ago, nearly impeached a president over wiretapping — would have been roiling with outrage over the National Security Administration’s exposure as a busybody.

Intercepted e-mails. Tracked cell numbers.

Our response: “Yawn.”

Yes, that’s how outraged we are, the Nation that Guarantees Individual Liberties. We’ve shown more outrage over things that really matter, like American Idol final results. Our apathy makes the standing patriots at Turkey’s Taksim Square look overworked.

Oh sure. A few people have written letters to the editor expressing disappointment in Big Brother, managing little flaps of indignation.

Let’s just drop the farce, shall we?

Americans don’t care because over the last couple of decades we’ve come to accept that with technology, privacy is pretty much impossible. And it’s due to our own making, not the government’s.

It all began with this little phenomenon called blogging.

I’ll admit. I joined that wave of bloggers in the late 2000s, staking my place like the Oklahoma Sooners. Find a catchy blog name and you’re in business. We wondered how much was Too Much Information until blogcelebs started letting all hang out with their confessions and honest takes on life. Not only that, but advertisers were paying!

Suddenly, everyone aimed to be the next big blogging success. They were sure every little factoid about their life was interesting to Someone Out There.

Blogging stripped us not only of our reserve, but also our anonymity. I actually worried back then about giving away too much of my personal information, until I realized that someone, with some amount of Google savvy, could look me up in a few clicks and figure out all my personal information anyway.

This very thing that made for a more open society also gave us license to indiscriminately purge.

Then Facebook gave us another exhibitionist platform.

Now we know what so and so had for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. What our bedrooms look like. What a good or bad lover our spouse is. How terrible our in-laws are. What a jerk the neighbor is.

People express outrage when their supposedly “private” venting on some closed Facebook group reaches the ears of their unintended. News report: If you want your secret to remain a secret, you don’t spill it on Facebook, no matter how private the group is.

Meanwhile, the rest of us get our little entertainment feed of the day. You scroll and try to skip posts, but it’s like saying to someone not to look at the car wreck along the highway.

At the heels of FB came Twitter, which is like Facebok on steroids. I joined it last year because, well, I thought it would give me some business presence. About all I’ve done has been to follow and be followed — like high-tech stalking! Tweets fly at speeds I couldn’t keep up with, so I haven’t even tried.

Goody. More secrets on display!

Oh, how I long for those days before blogging, before Facebook, before Twitter. When we were more circumspect, and when we kept information safe because we cared.

When the sanctity of our emails mattered. When the privacy of the phone numbers we dialed mattered.

Once upon a time.


Jewel Punzalan Allen is a memoir writing coach and long-time journalist who lives in Grantsville. Visit her website at www.Treasured

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