Recently there has been so much drama over who is watching who and the legality over it all. Even before I was born, the slogan “Big Brother is watching” was already causing an uproar. So what is different today than it was 50 years ago? Nothing. The problem is, we are now knowledgeable about what Big Brother is doing. High profile “classified” secret keepers have enlightened the US citizens about what we suspected for years! Big Brother is indeed watching. Wohoo. I am excited to know that my hard earned tax dollars are paying someone who is “classified” to sit around and read my email, listen to my phone calls and monitor my whereabouts and presence online. If they really want to know anything about me, they could simply do a “Google search” and see all there really is to know.
Here is my question. Why are we as American people really this uptight over what the “classified” people are doing with our information? We shop online and share our banking information with someone we have never met and have no issue doing so. We use social media every two minutes, either posting our location, or tweeting about where we are, what we are doing and who we are with, sharing that information with anyone who chooses to know. We take pictures with our phones, upload them to photo gathering websites, with location services enabled, identifying our exact location to the viewer. We turn on our GPS enabled cell phones just to see how bad traffic is ahead which reveals our own location. We type in our banking information into smart phones, ipads, laptops and desktop computers, sharing full access info, that should remain private, just to check our balance before we swipe our debit card into a machine that gathers and records more information. The list of how we share and overshare our personal secrets could continue on endlessly.
I recently was out of state using my credit card for a purchase. It went through just fine. When I attempted to use it again, my card was declined. I called the credit card company to find out exactly why they had declined the charge. The lady on the other end of the phone explained to me that my card was being used at a different location than my home. I explained to the lady that I was traveling, and used the card at the store. Yes, it was me using my card 1500 miles from my mailing address. Again, my swiping my credit card alerted someone in another state far away to freeze my spending. They knew where I lived, my social security number, my mother’s maiden name, my credit balance and where I was shopping. Scary.
My thought is this. We have no privacy because we as a society have embraced technology. We expect Google to know our search history, to spam us with ads that are relevant to our purchase history and to cram our inbox with spam based on our likes and dislikes. Just as technology advances, we as a society advances. We don’t handwrite letters, we email, facebook or tweet. We don’t use maps, we use a GPS. We don’t have home phones anymore. We as a society have chosen to be max out technology and with that, of course the government agencies will strategize and use that information in whatever way they can. Some states now have police cars equipped with license plate readers. Their continual scanning of cars allows the police to find stolen vehicles and to find people who have not paid their taxes. Interesting twist.
How does this relate to dementia? Just as technology helped find stolen cars, or track my credit card, it also can track a dementia patient. GPS tracking devices are really significant tools for dementia patients who may wander. Some of these GPS chips can help us locate a missing person within 30 feet of the signal. We as health care professionals promote these GPS tracking devices, and not once do you hear anyone scream “privacy invasion”! It serves to protect the dementia patient. Protection. That is what it is all about.
So, with all that said, when I hear the same news report about who is telling what to who, who is watching who, I turn off the TV and open my laptop. A screen pops up:
“Your privacy settings are set on low. Would you like to change them to ensure private browsing and safe shopping online?” Hmmm, I wonder, how does my own laptop know what my settings are unless it too is sneaking around my motherboard and gathering info? I guess there are no secrets anymore.