There are endless circumstances of governments invading civilian privacy, but this interesting post by Dave Pell at NPR raises the issue of how we as civilians treat each other’s privacy.
The article was inspired by an incident you may have heard of where the argument of a couple arguing openly in a Burger King was followed and tweeted by someone else in the restaurant. It focuses on the ethics of whether we treat each other as fair game for such things when we are in public. BTW Burger King, this is a much better ad campaign than that stupid King costume. Just saying.
Argue in public and expect to be a spectacle for the onlookers. Eat in public and expect to deal with the public. Even if that means the occasional arguing couple or bum with 10 ft radius pee smell. Maybe that’s just a San Francisco thing…
Enter the all seeing eye of smart phones and social media. If you don’t have similar expectations as above that you might be filmed, photographed or spoken of while making a scene in a public place, you probably qualify as naive. Of course, if you had the “emotional intelligence” to stop and think about things like that in the first place, you probably would wait until you were in the car before getting into it further. The fact is, some people just don’t have that and never will.
So the finger is pointed back to the onlooker. Was it proper etiquette to broadcast this public scene to a wider audience? Nah, it’s rude, but it still comes down to using your own personal judgement. I mean, this type of real life drama dominates pop culture. If you make a living or benefit in some way from social media, I don’t think anyone can fault you too hard for giving the people exactly what they have shown that they want time and again through their action. Sure, they may say it’s horribly wrong in a moral sense, but then look at how often those people’s morals are overlooked when it comes to collecting a paycheck.
Instead of hopping on the moral diatribe of what’s right and wrong, which is only a matter of personal opinion as far as I can tell, I would like to look at why this sort of thing is so popular to begin with. Why might we want to post such things?
In days of old, an incident such as this couple’s argument would have been quickly forgotten and hardly anyone would have known that it took place. Say this couple worked out their problem and made up. The next day you might meet them for the first time and never know that they had a fight. In that moment, you might even think they are the perfect couple and wish that your relationship was as happy as theirs seems to be. You might compare this snapshot of their lives to the sum of your own relationship. Images of fights you had and small resentments coming to the surface making your own relationship seem to pale in comparison.
Perhaps this is why we generally love to see these dramas play out in others. Perhaps it makes us feel that we are not the only ones who are human; whose lives are not in fact perfect in spite of our best efforts to present it as such.
So how will society adapt to these intimate moments being more prone to public voyeurism? Will we adopt an unspoken etiquette of looking the other way and hope that people will comply? Will we make social outcasts of those who don’t? Or will it make apparent the fact that we are all human, flawed, and lead us to accept our own shortcomings?
In conclusion, I think a poor diet consisting of fast food makes you generally irritable and you would probably do best to stay away from it altogether.