Is Big Brother watching you? When is my private life private? How can I be assured no camera is watching my every move?
According to Wikipedia, "The Truman Show delusion is a type of persecutory/grandiose delusion in which patients believe their lives are staged plays or reality television shows." The disorder was named after a motion picture staring Jim Carrey in which all the people in the his life have been paid actors, thus Truman is living in a constructed-reality, being televised globally around the clock.
The basis of this delusion is that video cameras are recording every move patients make without their permission or knowledge. While the delusion is far-fetched, the concept of being secretly recorded has become commonplace. ATM machines, retail stores, traffic lights and waiting rooms have become places where most people expect to be recorded. In the news each week, there are cases reported of distasteful secret recording in rest rooms, office cubicles, bedrooms and even from unmanned aerial vehicles.
This is the trouble that sometimes comes with technology. As the video imaging chips have become inexpensive, video cameras are nearly disposable. The video can be recorded in the camera or wirelessly transmitted to a nearby monitor or recorder. We have a new temptation to manage now that millions of people have the power to purchase and hide tiny video cameras. The temptation to record without permission will become more apparent as more devices are manufactured with a video camera as one of their features. Not only mobile phones but door bells, thermostats, clocks and rear-view mirrors in cars are just a few examples. In the near future, some of these devices will be sold to automatically record data in 24-hour loops without the owner needing to make the decision to start a recording. Instead of the owner being required to hit the record button, he or she will have to hit the non-record button. In other words, they will need to take action to not record video at a desired point in time.
The impact of this development is many fold. Our rights to privacy can be easily violated so our expectations of privacy are diminished. Some may argue that this leads to greater transparency but personally, I am a big believer in the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution; "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." While transparency has merit, privacy reigns supreme.
I strongly discourage you from recording anyone without his or her knowledge and permission. If you learn about someone else who is using video cameras for this visual eavesdropping, please remind them of the moral and ethical obligations to treat others as they would like to be treated. Video recording is a powerful responsibility and thus should be undertaken by those with noble character.
Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.