If you live pretty much anywhere on planet Earth where there are other human beings around, most likely you also live within range of a camera lens.
A little over a decade ago, I owned one 35mm film camera. Posting a digital picture of myself for an online dating profile was quite an undertaking. I had to have the film developed. Then I had to bring one of the prints to someone who owned a digital scanner. Then I had to put the picture on a floppy disk, go home, boot up my 386 desktop computer, and try to dial into my ISP, hoping that no one in my household was using the phone line at the same time.
Today, I own 6 camera phones, 5 digital cameras, 4 digital camcorders, 3 webcams, and even then, I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Bottom line is, in the past decade, the number of cameras in our society has exploded, and the ease of publishing or sharing pictures has also improved. I can catch my dog in a cute pose, and within seconds, email 12 copies of it.
Today on top the mountain I was strapping my foot onto my snowboard, and then noticed that a group of about a dozen skiers were just standing around in front of me - my regular readers know how much I despise people who just stand in the middle of a ski trail. I turned around and noticed that some dude behind me was trying to snap a picture of these people. I was just trying to have fun on the slopes, and I almost ended up on Flickr.
Last Friday night, driving home from work, some tourist in front of a Holiday Inn was taking random pictures of cars passing by, and my gaze crossed the gaze of her camera lens.
Our company Halloween party? Forget it. My over-the-top costume made quite a sensation, and within the hour, I was a Facebook celebrity. And I don't even f*king have a Facebook profile!
Holiday shopping two years ago wasn't much better. I was at a mall to buy an iPod, and I see these cute kittens and puppies in a storefront window. OMG! I love puppies! So I walk into the store, and walked right back out when I ended up face-to-face with a local TV camera crew doing a story about pet adoptions.
Of course, the moment you enter a store, you are being recorded by security cameras. Pulled over for a burned-out tail light? Your encounter with the policeman is recorded.
The bottom line is, it is almost impossible not to end up within the focus range of a camera nowadays. Sure you can always wear sunglasses, a hat and a ski mask, but then you would be known to everybody as that 'freak in a ski mask'.
But pictures or videos are only one part of the story. Anything you write, anything you say can end up published, copied, broadcast etc. Politician sex scandals indicate stupidity; if you hold any kind of public office, those pictures of you performing a sex act with a "dancer" in a "gentlemen's club" will end up online, guaranteed. Those skeletons in your closet? Dust 'em off! They're going live in 5... 4... 3...
So you say you weren't speeding sir? Wait, is that a GPS-enabled phone in your pocket, or do you have a thing for men in uniform? Oh and that black box in your car that collects crash data? Yep, it's got a GPS tracker too.
You want to log on to your favorite anti-government right-wing church website? Yep, Time Warner Cable is recording your IP address.
People who make stupid mistakes, or commit intentional mischief, and expect to not get caught, are delusional. In this day and age, one cannot hide. We live in a zero-privacy era. So groom yourself. Behave properly. Obey the law. Pay your bills on time. Be squeaky clean. Dress well. Trim those nose hairs. Get rid of that mole on your chin. Get those dentures you always wanted, and smile! Because you are on camera!