A passage that caught my attention while reading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow was one in which the protagonist, Marcus, discusses why people want privacy. On page 57, Marcus asks the reader to consider the act of defecating. There is nothing shameful, abnormal or criminal about using the washroom so why would having to evacuate solid waste “in a glass room perched in the middle of Times Square” make us uncomfortable? Marcus argues “It’s not about doing something shameful. It’s about doing something private. It’s about your life belonging to you.” This quote attracted my attention because it made me reconsider my stance on the privacy vs. security debate. In my previous blog post addressing the article, “Mining Student Data Could Save Lives”, I had wholeheartedly agreed with Michael Morris’ attempt to persuade colleges to data mine in order to prevent mass shootings however, Doctorow’s quote prompted me to further consider with the flip side.
Currently, there are no security cameras in the washrooms on Vanderbilt’s campus. I hypothesize if camera were installed in washrooms, there would be an uproar. Like Doctorow points out, there is nothing shameful about using the washroom but I can imagine many people might feel dehumanized if they were being surveilled while showering, brushing their teeth or defecating. Why would I want toilet stalls? I’m not sure, I just want my privacy. It might be hard to justify using words why those actions required privacy yet there is an almost unanimous agreement one should have privacy when defecating, hence the existence of toilet stalls. Having some degree of privacy, is liberating. This caused me to reevaluate the value of my privacy. How much privacy I want will not perfectly align how much privacy my peers want. I would still want to respect the privacy wants of others.