With all the issues we have been having with Privacy (with a capital P) in the United States and all over the world, it’s no wonder people have been skeptical of the procedures that TSA has enforced for air travel and the full body scanners. People were outraged when they first installed in airports around the nation, and even more so when there was a required full body pat-down. Now there is more outrage as former TSA officer Jason Edward Harrington wrote a piece about the defective equipment and the unprofessionalism of the officers using them:
“Just as the long-suffering American public waiting on those security lines suspected, jokes about the passengers ran rampant among my colleagues: Many of the images we gawked at were of overweight people, their every fold and dimple on full awful display,” he wrote.
“Piercings of every kind were visible…One of us in the IO room would occasionally identify a passenger as female, only to have the officers out on the checkpoint floor radio back that it was actually a man. All the old, crass stereotypes about race and genitalia size thrived on our secure government radio channels.” -Jason Edward Harrington
Shouldn’t they be acting more professional? You may wonder and speculate all you like, but it isn’t that hard to figure out. Professionalism has lost its ground. Not because it is not required or expected anymore, but because it has become much easier to see the unprofessional side of people with the increase of technology use. We have all worked in an environment behind closed doors. We have all vented to our coworkers about a client or customer that wasn’t ideal. We make up nicknames for problem individuals in our work places. We make up nicknames for our coworkers too. We all do it on one level or another (shame on us).
Another situation of technology inhibiting professionalism is the #hasjustinelandedyet issue. Justine Sacco, the head of corporate communications for IAC, a media company that runs The Daily Beast and Match.com and other sites, made a shockingly racist comment on her personal Twitter account:
My question is why are we surprised and even outraged by this? We live in a society that has trends on Twitter such as #fuckphyllis as a public threat to an individual who didn’t cancel school for a cold day. So why are we completely surprised that we have TSA officers making jokes about us behind closed doors and lit screens? Isn’t everybody else already doing that? We live in a society full of weightism, racism, and sexism. We talk freely online as if we are behind closed doors, and expect no one to hear us, and the internet is just like being behind closed doors…in a room full of billions of people.
I have a theory, (and you are welcome to add to it or subtract from it as you will), that as we become more open and honest behind our screens, we are also becoming more open an honest about our opinions in reality. We are desensitized even, to what is politically incorrect because of our constant over exposure to it. But, why? Because the virtual world is reality now. What is happening on our Facebook page and what is happening in our home or head is the same. Our lives are no longer private because we have chosen to take it to the public in our posts, statuses, comments and #hashtags. As privacy reduces, there is evidence that people are taking their opinions offline and literally verbalizing them. The screen is making us more bold…whether it is bold enough to tell a lie or bold enough to tell the harsh, politically incorrect, truth.
Furthermore, why are we surprised that our privacy is becoming more public? Aren’t we the ones allowing this to happen by complying to the standard when we have other (perhaps less convenient) options? Aren’t we voting for our representatives? Aren’t we the ones writing the posts? Completing the surveys? Buying the merchandise? We opt into letting our Apps into our personal content. We let our devices give out our location when we post status updates. We chat with our friends online about plans giving specific details. We tell strangers our secrets on apps like Whisper. Our teenagers, coworkers, and family members Snapchat inappropriately sensitive content to strangers. We say we don’t like it, but what do we do to stop it? We have come to the playground to trade privacy for convenience, entertainment, and acceptance/safety. And we’re the kid by the fence unaware that the rest of the kids are making fun of us. It’s beginning to feel an awful lot like middle school isn’t it?
Why is it so very shocking that TSA officers use us as entertainment behind closed doors? Because, in our pursuit of entertainment and acceptance within our own social circles, we did not think we would become the entertainment or outcast in another.
Welcome to the internet. You’re on your own.