We're all living in a fishbowl

Published 4:04 am Wednesday, August 13, 2008

By Staff
We might not be quite as high-tech as the Jetsons, but the world we live in is still pretty amazing technology wise.
We now have telephones that fit in our pockets and have more computing power than desktop computers from five years ago. With just a few clicks, we can take a picture, upload it to the Internet and suddenly our image is out there for the entire world to see.
Of course, with that technology comes a cost. It might just be the end of privacy as we know it.
Take for example, the case of Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Earlier this week, photos were leaked on the Web site, The Big Lead, which show Clausen (who is underage) and two other underage Notre Dame football players at a party participating in a drinking game.
The pictures seem to suggest that the players were enjoying “adult beverages” at the party, something which is, of course, illegal.
My initial reaction to this was, “Well, if he was underage, then that's a crime and he should be punished.” Then my next reaction was, “But in the big scheme of things, is this really that big of a deal? Everyone knows that college kids are going to drink even when they're underage.”
My final reaction was, “Wow, if you're a celebrity you just can't put your guard down for a minute.”
It's most likely that The Big Lead obtained the photos from a Facebook or MySpace page, probably belonging to a fan that was just excited he had the opportunity to photograph Clausen. And more than likely, Clausen thought nothing of mugging for the camera and figured the kid would show the photograph to his friends and that would be the end of it.
It was once easy for celebrities to avoid negative publicity – simply avoid the press. In this day and age, we are all members of the paparazzi. We have cell phones that will not only take an embarrassing picture of someone, but that same phone will then connect to the Internet where we can quickly upload that picture in a matter of minutes. And now that those phones can also record audio and video, even what people say can come back to bite them.
As we enter the political season, you know that there will be people with their cameras pointed at that mayoral candidate or presidential nominee, just waiting for that potential slip of the tongue or irreverent gesture. If you are in a position of celebrity or power in today's age, you have to straighten up and fly straight all the time.
In his novel 1984, George Orwell suggested that in the future we would all be watched by a ubiquitous Big Brother, keeping an eye on our every move. Orwell was right, only today we don't need a Big Brother. We're doing a fine job of it on our own.
Jusin Schuver is news editor of The Andalusia Star-News.

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