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Google Snooping

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Peek-A-Boo:  Google Sees You!

Today’s Wall Street Journal disclosed a secret: Google has been ogling you. That’s right – you, as in Y-O-U.

The search engine digital monolith is coming under fire again for searching us out a tad too much. Authorities in the US and France are making serious inquiries into Google’s cache of personal information that not only tracks our interests and personal proclivities but repurposes the data for its ever-exploding on-line advertising arm.

Today’s Google story is epic in that it stunts earlier imaginings of voyeurism. George Orwell’s iconic Big Brother and Jim Carey’s Truman Show have now met – on steroids – as our personal thoughts, opinions, photos and more are captured, massaged, and shared.

Who could have known while growing up that the parties we attended in high school, the papers we wrote in college and the private purchases we made last week could, and would, be part of a profitable on-line data base?  Not me.

Yet today’s WSJ report merely spotlights again our brave new world and reminds us we’ve all been “outed”.

My background was tame, maybe downright embarrassing.  While starched middle-age execs and conservative moms may want to expunge photos from youthful wild escapades back in the day, I’ve been fearful of floating photos of my junior high uni-brow or a scan of my class of ‘76 yearbook when I was voted “Most Dignified”, pouring tea to an equally “dignified” male counterpart from chem class. Talk about uncool!

So I found myself laughing this morning as new group photos started appearing on Facebook, asking me to tag them with my name. Just last weekend, as part of a surprise Flash Mob dance troupe performing at an artsy-fartsy downtown St. Petersburg, Florida vintage clothing emporium, I was equally surprised to find myself in the midst of nearly nude painted models whose only 2-dimensional clothing consisted of panties and pasties.

The personal irony wasn’t lost on my FB tagging predicament. You see, I’m also a publisher of preschool and young children’s books. And so it is with us all. Because of our ever-increasing digital footprint, we can be actively and deliberately engaged in suspect situations or just accidentally and tangentially connected. We can also be accused, maligned and deliberately represented in all kinds of complex and compromising life experiences. No one can avoid this present day reality.

The lights are now up, the curtains cleared and the closets are all open.  Google is ogling all of us and we can no longer pretend to hide. What we thought was hidden is now exposed and even if we choose to decline a Facebook account, our past and present private lives are forever part of the worldwide public domain.

Yet despite the pitfalls and perils inherent in this new Peek-A-Boo-I-See-You Digital era, there may prove to be a silver lining.

Now that we’re all denizens of the Internet’s proverbial glass house, we may learn to be better global citizens.

Knowing there’s a chance they’ll ricochet back at us, we just might start throwing softer stones.

Maura is an International Speaker on Self Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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