Update: I wrote this post a week ago and set it to publish this morning. Last night I saw a video someone posted on Facebook that was a news clip about exactly what I’m talking about below. So I decided to add the clip to the post so that y’all would know I’m not just paranoid.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Technology these days is absolutely amazing. Sure, there are things from old movies that, were you to go back and watch them now, you’d say “HEY! We don’t have that yet! When are we going to get it???” Things like hover boards, flying cars, space ships for intergalactic travel, and so on.
But look what we DO have.
We have phones that we carry around with us everywhere. We have headsets for these phones that don’t need wires so we don’t even have to hold the phones up to our heads. We can use these phones to chat by voice, or by text, or by picture, or by video! We can update our Twitter or Facebook status from virtually anywhere.
That’s all fantastic! But…
I find it a little unsettling what comes bundled with all this technology. A GPS chip in your phone can (if you allow it) geo-tag your comments and photos. Even if we’re not geo-tagging, we’re checking in! Facebook places, Foursquare, all kinds of programs out there to let everyone know where you are at any given time. Just for grins one day, I opened up Twitter on my iPhone and did a search for tweets that happened near me. I have no idea just how accurate the locations are, but bear with me here. So Twitter will tell me what people are saying around me. I pull up a tweet, and I can get a location. I take that location and I open it in maps. I then take that location in maps and get directions to it. I can get directions from wherever I am and follow someone who is posting geo-tagged tweets! And with Google’s street-view, you can even look at the house they’re tweeting from.
It’s a little unnerving.
So I can’t help but ask myself, “how safe are we?”
It seems like this technology can be bittersweet. I mean, sure, it makes a stalker’s job easy, right? But could it make the jobs of the police easy, too? If someone regularly “checks in” with technology and is always telling people where they are…even if something happens to them, it’d be easy to pin-point where they were last seen. Since the person may very well have taken their own photo and put it online, it would be easy not only to show a picture of the person, but a picture of what they looked like when they were there!
I have avoided the whole “checking in” functions online. I like to at least keep some illusion that I have some anonymity left. But I often wonder who I’m kidding. Big brother is watching. I’m not sure there’s anywhere you can go online these days that you’re not being tracked. Even if you regularly clear your Internet cache and cookies (tracking is often done through cookies if you didn’t know), there are hardware specs of your computer that could be read…tie those to IP addresses and there are people who can follow you (technologically) wherever you go.
Sounds like I’m paranoid, right? I don’t know…maybe a little. But really…how safe are we? Is it better to embrace the technology and surf the wave of the world wide web? Or is it better to try to stay off the grid as much is reasonable? Is it even worth the effort to try to maintain anonymity?
Oh yeah, and as far as geo-tagging your photos, check out the news clip below. I actually tried to do this (before seeing this video) on a picture my wife posted on Facebook (just to see if it could be done). I was not successful, but obviously I had not downloaded the appropriate tools. I did not put much effort into it and now I kind of wish I had just for the sake of being able to tell you that I knew how easy it was.
Well, anyway, watch the clip…paranoid or truly disturbing?
Wow…too deep a thought process for my blog. I have to go do something funny now. If I figure out what…I’ll post about it later.