Student Voice


June 12, 2024


Public surveillance exposes personal privacy as less than necessary

October 18, 2007

When you live the hostel life, you sacrifice nearly 95 percent of your privacy to people whom you do not know and probably should not trust. Even sleep is disturbed by the top bunker calling it a late night. The odds of dressing alone in a room fit for ten are slim. The inconveniences and lack of my own room are not as bothersome as some may think. Life on the road (or rail) consists of these surprisingly fun experiences. The idea of privacy begins to take a new shape.

Sitting on a street corner eating fish-and-chips, the only sounds are those of shoes on cobblestone and the whirring of the CCTV (closed circuit television) spinning around to check out your scene. Peek into any shop, restaurant or street side, and bulky cameras have their eyes on you. I tell those I meet about the copious amounts of government eyes on us in the city. They all swear that the United States has much more— only hidden. How does that make you feel, knowing “Big Brother” is watching?

To me, the cameras are only slightly invasive. There is something thrilling about knowing you are being watched.

What will come of it? The secret police will not jump you for smoking a joint. The cameras don’t know what is going on in our heads. As ordinary citizens in this world I believe we have little to fear when it comes to the zooming lenses. Keep your bombs, drugs and thieft under wraps, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

“A man who loses his privacy loses everything,” author Milan Kundera said. “On the other hand living in truth means breaking down the barriers between the private and the public; which is the source of all lies.”

As people we long for time and space to call our own. Time to gather your self is vital, although as humans, we long for company. Opening up to strangers and feeding information to them may seem exhilarating yet almost desperate for attention. But I have also met some crazy people that seemed like they had not spoken deeply to a person in some time.

So which is it? Do we lose ourselves when we open up and show ourselves? Or do we lose ourselves in the hidden lies of privacy? Either way, privacy from living quarters to public rights to the individual thoughts is something to be cherished but not always essential. I write this as I am sitting alone in Regent’s Park—in public, but pleased with the privacy.

In the end, you’re only real if you’re true to yourself.

-Teresa is a journalism major and a geography minor. She is enrolled in the Semester Abroad: Europe program and is currently doing research on the River Thames in London. Later in the semester she will be independently backpacking across Europe.

Teresa Aviles is a student at UW-River Falls.