Sloane Crosley: 'We’ve come to expect so little from online privacy measures'

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The Independent Online

The real world is in revolt. Sick of the lack of boundaries online, real-life privacy is now all the rage. When Facebook changed its privacy model last year, the world staged a minor hissy-fit for about a week before it got over it.

But does it really matter if a photo or six leak out into the ether? We've come to expect so little from online privacy measures that public displays of concern about the matter are more or less for show. Being devastated to discover you've been tagged in somebody else's photo has an air of the melodramatic about it at this point.

However, of late I think people are keeping their cards closer to their chests on the street. Women are less trusting with their bags on the bus. Conversations in public places are being conducted at a civilised whisper, and the paranoid over-the-shoulder glare at the ATM appears to have been reinstated. I believe it's because we have so little privacy left in cyberspace, in real life we've gone back to reclaim the discretion we used to enjoy.

Something else I've noticed: when collecting prescriptions from Duane Reade, the US equivalent of Boots, one has to sign one's name in a little book confirming that one is oneself and that the drugs have been collected. For years, I'd scan down the list for the next blank space and scribble my name. Now a law has been passed obliging the pharmacist to cover up the other names on the list with a piece of paper.

I also used to take a nostalgia trip to the lobby of the building where I had my first job. I'd walk in, reminisce, inhale, think of how far I've come, slam into someone mid-reverie and spill coffee all over myself, etc, so forth. Now I can't get past the front door without an electronic key card and two valid forms of identification. I get it. It's not merely privacy, but security, and those are different things. But you know what? I would swap wandering through an ex-boyfriend's photo album for wandering through that lobby, any day. Sloane Crosley is the author of 'How Did You Get This Number' (Portobello Books)