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Dads2dads: When privacy becomes public

Tom Tozer and Bill Black • Updated Feb 18, 2018 at 4:00 PM

Big Brother is watching you. If you’re familiar with George Orwell’s futuristic book, “1984,” you know all about Big Brother. He, she or it was a presence that was ubiquitous. Big Brother saw all and knew all. There was no privacy. One’s actions and activities were constantly monitored, and anyone who fell out of step with conventional thought and actions was quickly discovered and dealt with accordingly. 

The click seen ‘round the world

For years many of us equated Big Brother with Uncle Sam. The closer we got to 1984, the more threatened we felt – the more suspicious we were of the government. Would our society mirror Orwell’s 1984? How ironic it is that in 2018 we not only have to be leery of government’s watchful eye but also wary of one another and the click of our cellphone cameras.

We are able to capture magic moments on the spot. It’s great to snap a photo of the dog and cat nose to nose or Aunt Edna taking a bite of birthday cake or best pals at a class reunion. Those same cameras, however, go click when so-and-so has had too much to drink or, click, when a mom severely disciplines her child in the grocery store or, click, when picking your nose goes viral on the internet.

Watch what you’re doing

Cameras can catch bad guys in the act. But so can cameras catch good guys acting badly. All of us have experienced temporary lapses in good judgment that have resulted in shameful or embarrassing behavior. With today’s technology, those lapses can be caught on camera only to become a global spectator sensation. 

Dad, you need to remind your teenagers that whenever they hang out anywhere with anyone, they are fair game for a photo op. They need to be careful of the company they keep and the activities in which they participate. In this voyeuristic age, one misstep can lead to a fall off a cliff. And no one needs their permission to pick up, photograph and post the pieces. 

Keeping privacy private

There is no argument that the communication devices we have today enable us to do wondrous things. There is a concern, however, that more of us are turning into observers rather than participants. We are looking for bizarre and sensational behavior, the unusual and/or shocking activity that we can freeze in time with our cameras – and then share through the many avenues of social media. We are becoming curators of our own photo exhibits.

This state of affairs does not signal the end of the world. But it does signify the emergence of a new and different world. Your kids need to know that privacy is becoming more public. 

Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. Contact them at tomandbill@dads2dadsllc.com.

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