A long way from 1984

Wasn’t it just yesterday that our hippie parents were warning us about Big Brother watching us to instill a little paranoia to make us conform? When did we stop worrying about our privacy?

Maybe it was after 9-11. Maybe it was after reality TV. Maybe it was after social media.

Our children rarely make a move that is not recorded and shared via the Internet. Those who are “private” are almost viewed with suspicion: Is something wrong with them? What are they trying to hide?

So there should be no surprise that most of the folks we asked about Belleville’s new downtown surveillance camera system were in favor of it. There are three cameras on the Public Square and the police department is seeking up to $65,000 to put six to eight on East Main and two or three on West Main to cover the downtown business district. Some aldermen were interested in expanding the program to other parts of the city.

We don’t object. We think keeping kids from tossing detergent into the Veterans Memorial Fountain, or at least catching them to make them pay for the bubble damage, is a good thing. We think the tools that will help find a lost child are a positive.

After all, you don’t have an expectation of privacy when you are on a public street or in a public place. As long as police are not using the system to creep potential dates or selling data on our festival drinking habits to a brewery, there is little downside.

Our bigger privacy concerns are the lack of boundaries and filters some folks exhibit on social media, but then those same folks would likely bend strangers’ ears in grocery stores with details of their medical issues and spouse’s shortcomings if they didn’t have Facebook.

For those who don’t like the eye in the sky, they can either avoid downtown Belleville or keep their nose clean. We’re well past 1984 and into a brave new world.