Friday, December 17, 2010
The Fine Art of Eavesdropping (An Author's Privilege?)
When people lower their voices in cafes, I always eavesdrop like a bellboy.
And I make no secret about it, either. I move a little closer to my neighbors' lattes, take out my pencil, and write down what they say word for word in my filthy little notebook.
I'm an author after all, so it's my divine right to look for inspiration wherever I go. But sometimes people get upset. They start to fidget and smell in the strangest of places, but I just smile and keep on taking notes.
"Excuse me," the odd cafe guest complains, "we're actually having a private conversation here."
"A private conversation?" I laugh. "Excuse me, but do you live in the Baroque period?"
"Where's your powdered wig? This is 2010, remember? Privacy is dead, so just continue talking about your nephew's crack addiction. I might be able to use it in a novel one day," I smile reassuringly. "Or at least I'll write some tweets about it..."
So does my eavesdropping sound crude, you think?
It's not at all - it's almost sweet and innocent. Something from a bygone era. Why? Because privacy is a word that has lost its meaning a long time ago.
I'm not even talking about Wikileaks and Facebook. Who cares about cry babies who can't use a condom? I'm talking about our online and offline lives.
Frankly, we've all become as transparent as spring water. Every single of us is surrounded by hackers where ever we go. Our cell phones rat on our geographic location; our basements are on Google Earth and can be spied on by Martians. Facebook will use facial recognition soon, meaning that you'll be tagged every time there's a photo of you getting a ... facial?
We're in a middle of a cyber revolution where none of us can hide. And hey, it's going to get even 'better' during the next few years. By 2014, most of us will have websites dedicated to our balls - we just won't know about it, unless we google ourselves obsessively.
So next time you meet a novelist, listening in on your conversations in a real cafe, have a little compassion. Soon the word real will be a thing of the past, anyway...