I know I don’t speak for everyone, but for me, the freedoms enjoyed by artists and journalists are worth possible breaches of privacy.
So said the journalist (or artist), not the person whose privacy is breached.
Given my rants against Google Glass and Facebook and the general hoovering-up of every last bit of ourselves in the name of Big Data, it is no surprise that I consider someone taking a photograph of me in my home an offense against all that is Good and Holy.
I draw lines between private and public, lines which, in practice, can be difficult to maintain. I want to reveal what I want to reveal and nothing more, but, of course, in the writing of this (now-less-than-) pseudonymous blog I say things about myself of which I am completely unaware.
I know that, but I choose—I choose—to do it anyway.
But sitting in my apartment on a cool spring day, drinking coffee and doing crosswords, no, I do not choose to have you record me, take something from me.
When I enter a public space I am aware of myself as being “in public”. I’m not much concerned I’ll be recorded—I am unremarkable in appearance—but I recognize, however gruffly, that if someone snaps a pic of me there’s little I can do about it. And even if you do grab me with your camera, I’ll almost certainly remain anonymous, in the background or a (drab) bit of the local scenery.
And, in any case, if I am in public so too are you: there is a symmetry of risk in our interactions.
(This is among the reasons I am leery of CCTV and apparatuses like Google Glass: the asymmetry of risk, which makes the person watched vulnerable to the person watching. And no, telling me I can even the score by recording back is not a sufficient answer, not least because such a response would force me deeper into a regime to which existence I object.)
In my apartment, however, I am not “in public”, windows be damned. That you can see me and I can see you is, of course, where the blur comes in, but part of living in a city means you maintain a set of manners in which the blur serves to protect privacy. I might see you playing your guitar and you might see me dancing, but we each let it go, unmentioned.
That we leave our curtains open as we strum or dance or eat or play with the dog or tickle the baby doesn’t mean we’re putting ourselves on display; it just means we want some light.
Yes, some people do put themselves on display, and within (generous) limits, that’s fine; that one person is an exhibitionist, however, does not mean the person next to her is.
This is, for me, theoretical. I live in an un-hip section of Brooklyn where few people would be so foolish as to think they could point a camera in someone’s window without consequence. I certainly wouldn’t advocate violence against that fool, but if the camera were, ah, rendered inoperable, well, them’s the risks you take.