A Private Opinion

There is no privacy in the constitution. There’s no need. When the constitution was written, in order to suitably violate someone’s privacy, you had to be a sick, muckraking busybody.

Then a justifiably forgotten Frenchman named Joseph Nicephore Niepce invented a hole in a box that could reproduce an image. Fast-forward sixty years and a hundred thousand unceremonious yuppies and a problem emerges: people don’t want their image appearing in places they didn’t put it themselves.

That is when privacy laws came about in this country: no earlier than a hundred and twenty years ago. Back then if you wanted to check on a person, you called references. If you were still unsure, you could look through old records or ask a few people. Now all you do is type in “banana grabber” and “Carlos Mariscal” and click search.

Back then, to get the information you can access now, you would have to go through so much trouble that you’d cross the line into harassment quite easily. Now, the exact same result is reached so quickly that it makes hiring a lazy man’s task.

Now the employer just has to type and click and the employee has to leap through hurdles to hide an offhand comment he said six months ago while drunk, tired, depressed or angry. Harassment and invasion of privacy have grown so simple; we’re advised to expect it because “that’s the way it is.”

Okay. Great. I’ll be sure to pass on the message to all of the blacks, Hispanics, Jews and women.
Of course the Internet is a maximally public space. Of course we have to assume everything there is out in the open for everyone to see and, because of its nature, you cannot cater the result to the people searching. Since this is the way things are, why should you worry about it, why not just go out of your way to hide your actions in the hopes that you will be the least unfavorable candidate and get that long desired for position?

Jean-Paul Vessel, an ethics professor here on campus, is now developing a course on “cyberethics.” I hope people decide to take it, because this society needs it.

In the May 4, 2006 edition of the Round Up, editor Paige Smaga said that it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right, but it is the way things are and we have to adapt.

Well, in the 19th century, it wasn’t the public that adapted to not walking around in good light: it was the law. I wager that is what it’s going to be like in the future, too. For now, however, I hope people take some cyberethics and, if you’d care to conform, delete your Myspace and Facebook too.

Well, I, for one, refuse. I will not compromise my values and the ability to speak my mind to those who seek to hear it for the sake of material and prestigious rewards. At a certain point, being yourself is a liability, but I’d rather be myself than cash a deductible premium any day of the week. The only way to live life is in the fast lane, with no safety belts and a defective airbag to boot play it safe any day.

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