Maybe I'm Just Paranoid

I’m not sure what this says about my general psychological state, but whenever I hear about new technology, I immediately think of all the ways it could be used for untoward activity.

For instance, there is a feature on Google Maps that allows you to have a street view of the address you search.  Now, I can see why this might be helpful. Suppose I wanted to get to the U.S. Post Office in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  I can see why someone not great with directions might want the visual aid.

From that angle, it looks more like a prison.

But, what if this was your house? There is a feature on Google Maps that allows you to “walk” along the street. Any creep who knows the general area in which you live can easily find what your house looks like. If your car was in the driveway at the time the image was gathered, anyone can see what you drive, as well. While only street views are provided (and not your backyard), it still seems like a burglar could still reasonably case your house for possible points of entry.

Is this really a good idea?

It doesn’t end at Google Maps, either. Most communication-based technology frightens me. Look at cell phones, for instance, are they really anything more than devices with which the government can spy on you and track your location?

Seriously, though, there are a lot of really disturbing web applications and pages that blur the line between public information and the implied right to privacy the Supreme Court has ruled can be found in the U.S. Constitution. Having your phone number in the white pages of a phone book in 1985 wasn’t a big deal. The people in your home town could call you. If you didn’t want this, you could have your number unlisted.

Now, anyone in the world can find information on you by typing your name into a search engine. Threats of identity theft abound, but this information could be used for even more unsavory purposes.

There are many upsides to being able to connect to people all over the world through the World Wide Web, but at what cost?

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Yes, this is a blog, but I’m no technophile.

I don’t have a BlackBerry, an iPhone, or any of the knockoffs.  I don’t have an iPod.  I rarely download music or movies.  I don’t use my cell phone very often because I hardly keep any minutes on it.  I have never even owned a video camera, and I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to upload or edit video if I tried.

I’m not hyper-connected.  I do belong to a couple social networking sites, but it honestly is mostly just to say hello to my old friends who are spread out across the country, and/or to take ridiculous time-wasting personality quizzes.  I also admit that I love the fact that Brian Griffin has his own Wikipedia page.  And obviously I have a blog, but that’s mostly because I write constantly and am trying to get more comfortable with the idea of people being able to read my writing.

So I know that I’m kind of a black sheep to my generation, but I just don’t get all the technology.

Sometimes the internet is great for finding information immediately that would require time-consuming library research, or to do things like finding academic papers, buying used books, paying bills, comparing products and prices, getting directions, etc.  Of course, I am able to do all of these things using other means, and still often do.  And frankly, I don’t want to be able to do these things all of time, from wherever I am.

I need to stop and take a breath sometimes.  I need to be able to just stop and think.  I need uninterrupted silence.

It seems that people are addicted to being connected via technology.  I mean, nearly every time I see someone walking alone they are on their phone.[1] But at the same time, technology allows us to increasingly isolate our physical selves from the world.  Our relationships devolve into a few words sent across cyberspace or by way of satellite.

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