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Archive for the ‘dinosaurs’ Category

Private Lives

Do you ever get the feeling that someone’s watching you? You’re probably right. No it’s not just the nosy neighbours who want to know why you feel the need to go to the store seventeen times per day, it’s the Traffic Cam and the Bank Machine Cam, and the Toll Road Cam [easy to fool that one – just drive backwards up the highway – but then of course you’ll have your face on Police Cam not to mention ‘America’s Most Wanted’ and possibly TMZ]. We live in a surveillance society – some of us more than others. I read that in the UK there are more cameras than people and there are entire police forces devoted to searching through hours and hours of video tape searching for that terrorist face in the crowd or maybe that grannie trying to smuggle soap powder to her relatives in Lithuania, we can never be sure. Or just maybe that grannie has swallowed a condom full of some naughty substance and is now incarcerated in the special ‘holding room’ at the airport while the customs blokes scrutinize her every movement – pun intended.

So it seems that someone or some thing i.e. a camera, has our fizzogs on tape just about every minute of the day that we spend outside. Inside the cameras watch us through the Web instead. Big Brother would be proud and no doubt a member of FaceBook. Mind you I had to dismantle my own web cam – for one thing people out there in webland could not possibly be interested in watching me staring into space for hours on end apart from the mentally challenged – and speaking of the mentally challenged, I also got rid of the web cam because certain ‘photographers’ kept sending me live pictures – of things – usually very small things it must be said, but not things I would want on the screen when the kiddies walked in.

Many people feel discomforted that personal privacy is coming to an end – if it ever existed at all that is. History is full of allusions to people living in tribes which also meant sharing the old longhouse or the log hut or the cave because if you didn’t you were likely to wind up inside a hungry dinosaur’s tum [yes yes I know that MAN and dinosaurs didn’t exist at the same time – but you get the idea] having been naturally selected as it’s afternoon snack while you wandered – foolishly – alone around the plain looking at daisies. There was safety, not to mention warmth and security, in numbers. Privacy – in the sense of personal privacy that is – appears then to be a modern invention. Up to a few hundred years or so ago we all lived together for all the reasons I’ve mentioned above plus it was much easier to pay the rent if there were several of you bringing in the groats at the same time. People lived in extended families which included several generations from the very young to the very old and cantankerous – unless you were members of a certain native group that is, who chose to set old grannie and granddad afloat on an ice-flow for the polar bears to eat instead when they got too annoying and started drooling on the rug.

Living the communal life had many side-benefits. You always had someone around to babysit the kids for instance while you went out to join in the monthly sun dance, and more kids meant more hands to the plough, or the threshing thingy or the mill wheel – which had the added benefit of saving on donkeys, and hence freed up more grain for the oat-cakes, or the whiskey, whichever your preferred. Of course more whiskey also meant more kids so you see it was a sort of self-fulfilling cycle and everyone was happy – except grandma of course who had to babysit all those little nippers running around the cave floor and falling in the river. This may have been why certain children [usually females] were deemed to be surplus to requirements and were left out on the hillside as offerings to the Gods, or the hyenas, whoever got there first. [All together now: Awwww].

More privacy means less communal support. It also of course means that more money in the form of wage labor [I see all you Marxists out there sitting up and opening an eye] must be produced in order to support the family unit. And mum cannot be expected to work out in the fields all day while the kids run wild at home even though Social Services didn’t exist at the time and if they had would be too busy scooping up squalling babies off hillsides to attend to *your* lack of parenting skills. This means that dad had to get up off his duff, stop dozing in the sun while the women did all the work and go out and find a job! There was a price to be paid for privacy you see. Gone was the old way of life and it was in with the new – which meant a need for transportation, which meant a need for cars and buses and trains and planes and motorbikes – and roads and runways and bicycle paths. And of course dad couldn’t just turn up at the office in his loincloth now could he? So that meant a need for clothing stores and shoe shops and sweat shops and Nike.

So it seems then that the cost of personal privacy is the end of civilization as we know it – and it’s possibly responsible for global warming too.

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