Looking around, we see screens everywhere. This isn’t really surprising to anyone, given how much we opt to use screens in our own daily lives. For a while, it was strange to see all of the signs in front of schools changing from removable letters to LED screens, but this is slowly becoming more normal as they are becoming more prevalent.
This is the same on campus. Walking past the lawn or past the cafe’s, you see almost everyone looking at some sort of screen. This is to be expected, after all we are on a University campus, you’d hope that most people would be engaging in some form of work or study. Either that, or they’re looking at their phones while they procrastinate, listen to music, or use the Campus Map PDF to find where they need to go. If you see someone on the lawn and they don’t happen to be looking at a screen, they’re most likely taking a nap – which I definitely do not see a problem with.
Additionally, we are starting to see more digital signage around the Wollongong Campus as well. This is a strange juxtaposition against the relatively old buildings around campus. Nevertheless, it’s a sign of the times (bad pun, sorry).
One thing I find particularly interesting (and humorous) is seeing the amount of people that have tape over the webcam on their laptop. I’m going to be honest, there have been times where I have considered doing this; but why? Is it really because we think people are watching us through our camera, or is it just a trend that people are jumping on because it’s funny?
The ‘FBI is watching me’ meme would suggest that this is just a trend, however there has been reason to believe that people’s paranoia may be justified. An article from The Washington Post stated that “the FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years…” (2013) While this was used in order to investigate serious crimes, mainly terrorism, it’s still an unsettling thought nonetheless.
So how can we understand this paranoia? Why do people feel uncomfortable with the idea of being watched even though, realistically, most of us aren’t doing anything that would be detrimental to our reputation?
It’s human nature to want privacy, especially from strangers. We don’t exactly want our private lives on display for everyone to see. However, this calls into question – in this day in age, why do we voluntarily put so much of our lives online, yet we’re worried when people could actually have a window into our lives. The differing factor in these two situations would be consent, but it’s still an interesting concept to think about.
Timberg, C. & Nakashima, E. (2016) ‘FBI’s search for ‘Mo,’ suspect in bomb threats, highlights use of malware for surveillance’ The Washington Post. Published: 13 December 2016. Viewed: 30 September 2018. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/2013/12/06/352ba174-5397-11e3-9e2c-e1d01116fd98_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.691cc2820ca0>