Opinion: The secrets we keep
Social media has opened up a new world for window peepers. Unbeknownst to many of us, our photographs are taken hundreds of times per day. Happily, most of the celebrity we might anticipate is abated by the fact that these shots are largely video surveillance at the ATM, gas pump, store, restaurant, school, workplace and just about every place we might venture during the day. These are not routinely posted to the web unless something exciting or funny occurs (think bank robbery or dancing cat).
We don’t control our image. Ordinarily, we don’t even know that it is being used. But the most common, is the photo posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, LinkedIn, Tagged, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube (these are on the top 10 list for most used social media sites of the billions of posts each year). Again, permission is rarely asked and we often don’t know of it.
Google has announced a new project called, simply enough, Image. At images.google.com one can upload an image of anyone and the program will scan the web to find similar pictures. I did it today of myself; and, wow, it pulled up pictures of me from all over the place. Some were known to me – others definitely not. But even more simply, a long-lost acquaintance posted a photo from an eighth-grade basketball tourney (we won!) to his Facebook page. Another friend saw me in it and let me know it was out there. I found the shot and the dozen or so of comments about it. My 13 year-old saw it – and observed our family resemblance.
But the picture could have easily been me in college holding a Little King Cream Ale slightly before my 21st birthday. Is it better to live a world without secrets? We may not have much choice.