Spies Like Us
Privacy seems like such a weird concept these days. Teens howl that their parents need to respect their privacy, but then they’re sending nude photos around the Interwebz. Adults froth at the mouth at the idea that the government has been acquiring cell phone information including the phone numbers we call and text, but then spout off that being detained/searched by the police “should be no big deal if you have nothing to hide”. Parents post gross or embarrassing photos of their too-young-to-consent kids for the humor and shock value, never considering that those photos will still be there when the kid – and their obnoxious peers – are old enough to find them.
So what should be our expectations of privacy? In relationships, I’ve heard of couples who don’t bother to close the door in the bathroom. If that works for you, that’s great. For me? Um, no. Like any other parent, I’ve read the book “Everybody Poops”, and I’m also aware that it’s a natural function of the human body, and yet, I simply do not have the faintest desire to chat with the Scientist while he engages in that particular natural function. (And vice versa) I’ve also heard of couples who maintain separate bank accounts – to which the other spouse does not even have access. For me, that’s an unnecessary extreme, but again, whatever works.
I read the article first published by the Mirror about the woman who stumbled on the fact that her husband had installed Cerberus on her phone, and those of her three teenaged children. Now, Cerberus is marketed as this wonderful anti-theft app that can help track your phone if it’s stolen. What a great invention, right?
The issue is that the person who installs it can then read texts, listen to conversations, and see who the other person is with via the camera. That’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax.
Now, the woman in question apparently has no problem with her husband doing this. She claims that he did tell her he’d done it, but she must have “forgotten”. My question is, Why was she informed that it had been done instead of being consulted as an equal as to the necessity? And her kids – why were they not shown a modicum of respect by telling them as well?
There are so, so many great guys out there. But there are also some controlling jerks who simply run roughshod over their partner until she accepts it as normal. If this woman feels that being spied on is “normal”, what else does she consider normal? Her realization of the app being on her phone did not come from an emergency situation in which her life was in danger and her gallant knight came to her rescue thanks to the wonderful abilities of Cerberus. No. This man routinely goes in and reads her texts and listens in on her conversations. How is this normal?
Her reply to this is chilling, as it speaks to the insidious nature of the whole situation. “If you’ve got nothing to hide, there’s no big deal.” She has been stripped of her right to any privacy, and it’s been replaced by a victim-shaming mentality. Basically, if you want privacy on your phone for any reason, then you must be guilty of something. This attitude has nothing to do with her assertion of “transparency” in a relationship. There is a huge difference between not keeping dangerous secrets from your partner and never having a conversation with only one other person. What if your sister needed to confide in you that she was scared of the lump in her breast? What if your son wants to come out to his father but isn’t sure how yet? Hell, we won’t even go to the serious stuff. Surprise party? Christmas gifts? Secrets don’t always mean destructive.
It saddens me to think that the desire for privacy in any form has become a source of shame. It scares me to think that people play on that shame and guilt for their own sense of power. This is not just undermining her as a human being, but it is teaching her children that this behavior is acceptable. They learn that if their partner demands access to every single iota of their lives, they have no right or reason to refuse unless they are guilty of something. Is this truly the lesson we want to teach our kids?