Saturday, March 23, 2013

Different privacies

The thing Google Glass enthusiasts don't get is this: it's quite possible for privacy to be specific to the medium.

There are things, for example, that someone is prepared to discuss in words, or even publish in text, that they would never, ever wish to reveal in images or live video.

If you read this and know me already, you know that my wife, Ms T, has an immune system disorder that requires heavy chemotherapy. And that chemotherapy has unpleasant side-effects.

Now, she's brave: she gave me permission to blog about the real world of chemotherapy, to try and counteract the images of smiling people with no hair that sell charity gim-gams, and the glamorous world of movie-chemotherapy of Noble Suffering. Chemotherapy, among other things, leads to copious vomiting and bowel incontinence, and it's a living hell when the planets align against you.

But that's text, Sergie. The worst of it – the real-world cleanups, the unscheduled showers, the extra loads of washing, the reassurance that someone isn't repulsive just because they've been injected with a drug that's two steps removed from mustard gas – remains private.

And then there's the Google obsession with its new cargo-cult, the not-yet-released Google Glass, a way to capture everything that happens to everyone if one psychotic company can just sell enough product.

Now imagine yourself in a situation: That someone you loved with nothing more than a disease is caught short during a shopping trip; that she makes a desperate dash to the public toilet, while you head in a different direction to buy underwear; and that some creep decides that this is going to get them a handful of YouTube hits.

Yeah, I can easily imagine that such creeps exist. I've had to deal with creeps with smartphones who thought that “this is the junkie getting to the doctor ahead of me” was a legitimate Tweet (Ms T isn't a junkie; the marks on her arms are symptoms of her disease, and she was at the time 35 kg because she was near death).

I can easily imagine men using video-glasses to upskirt women on stairs or escalators or any other chance that presents itself. Hell, I'm a man: Ms T, discussing this subject said “If you stop looking at women, I'll bury you. If you video them, I'll kill you, then bury you.”

But there are too many people, too vulnerable, who have to be in public. They all have to work, shop, visit the doctor, the dentist, the library, the butcher. They don't need some smug, solipsistic smart-arse with camera-glasses to publish their misery worldwide.

The humiliation of the helpless is the endless preoccupation of the nutless: and with Google Glass, all those guys with no balls will have their perfect humiliation to practise on everyone with more misery than they have.

So I will make this pronouncement: not on my patch. At least on those parts of the world that are my property, I will never permit anything that looks like Google Glass. Go elsewhere, you sad losers, and leave people to their unaugmented reality, with its imperfections and loves and privacy.

1 comment:

Robert Merkel said...

Nice piece.

Google Glass takes us from a world where recording is the exception to one where it is the default.

That said, there are sunglasses with built in video cameras available right now, and unless you're aware of them you wouldn't look twice at them. The upskirters and other random sickos who get a kick from deliberately humiliating others are already equipped with all the tools they need.