What is it like to raise children in an age of zero privacy?

Andrea TomkinsThere’s a video about a hysterical woman who missed her ferry is making the rounds right now. CBC decided to give it some play, even though there’s no real story behind it.  To summarize: there’s a lady, and there’s a ferry. She missed it by three minutes and someone recorded a video of her having a breakdown. We don’t know who she is, or why she acted the way she did. Admittedly, her behavior is pretty outrageous, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she was having some kind of personal breakdown or some inner turmoil that boiled over at a terrible time. What if she has mental health issues? CBC basically ran with the story because of the “viral” nature of the video. There’s really no other reason.

There are numerous examples of public shaming that happen for no reason other than the fact that there happened to be someone nearby with a smart phone. It makes me sad to think that this is the kind of society we’re living in now.

It’s happened countless times. Someone does something stupid, like sending an invoice for a no-show at a child’s birthday party or acts like a jerk on the TTC, and the Internet explodes with anger. What’s worrying is that we rarely have the benefit of the other side of the story.

There was a Twitter account I used to follow, a humourous parody account written by a well-known pop culture character. He tweeted one of those click-baity “you won’t believe these embarrassing moments” links and, of course, I clicked on it. The first photo was of a cheerleader in a white jumpsuit, arm in arm with members of her squad. The photo was snapped right at the uppermost juncture of a high kick. Guess what, she got her period at the worst.possible.time. In pre-smartphone days, some people in the stadium might notice, and she would die of embarrassment, and then it would be over and eventually turn into a bad memory. But NOW, everyone gets to see that awful personal moment, over and over, for the rest of her life. Possibly beyond.

What about websites like People of Walmart, or Worst Haircuts Ever? (Ok I made that last one up, but you get the picture.)

So what have we told our own children? Two things: (a) Never to post anything they wouldn’t say to someone’s face. They can NEVER be the person shooting the video and sharing it because it’s morally bankrupt, and (b) true privacy doesn’t exist anymore. Heaven forbid we do something that someone else considers in bad taste, or slip on the treadmill at the gym, or have a nervous breakdown in a public place. Someone with quick reflexes can grab that footage and have it circulating around the Internet in seconds.

This is, unfortunately, the price we pay for living in such a digitally connected society, in which everyone has the ability to publish anything, at any time.

How would you feel if you were the one caught on camera at your lowest moment?