Snooping: As Outrageous as It Gets

 

I know that when I’m in public areas, any work I do on my smartphone or laptop is vulnerable to the eyes of others. That’s not a big deal since I rarely text and seldom use my laptop on a plane.

But in the Wall Street Journal  today, there was an article on people checking out others’ messages and documents—over their shoulders and next to them! Not only that, they had the nerve to comment on what they’d read! Here’s the story that stunned me:

Bill Fish was texting his wife on breaks during a talent show at their children’s Cincinnati school when a woman seated next to him asked, ‘Are you married to Nicole Fish?’

Assuming the woman was trying to be friendly, Mr. Fish said he was, introduced himself and said, ‘Nice to meet you,’ he says.

‘Her next line to me was, ‘I saw that you’ve sent her two or three texts, so I just had to be sure you were actually her husband,’ says Mr. Fish, co-founder of Tuck, an online resource on sleep and related products.

Does anyone else find this disgraceful? Have people invaded your privacy in this way, and have they been obnoxious enough to say so? Doesn’t anyone have a sense of decorum anymore, or even embarrassment?

There are 45 comments.

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  1. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    I keep reading about incidents like this, but they never happen to me. I seem to miss out on all the fun.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Maybe they’re just the ones who snoop but keep it to themselves . . .

    • #2
  3. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I’ve always taped over the cameras on the laptops I’ve bought, as well as the microphones.  I’ve also deleted the software associated with these built-in devices.  Whenever I want to speak to my laptop (using Dragon NS), I hook up a mike-earpiece headset.  Other than that, I disable all that stuff.

    If I had a family member overseas, yes, I might Skype.  But I feel the capabilities of hackers far outweighs the abilities of companies even like Norton (which I use) to prevent intrusions.

    • #3
  4. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    This is why I only text while driving.

    • #4
  5. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    No laptop, no smartphone.  No problem.

    • #5
  6. Dick from Brooklyn Thatcher
    Dick from Brooklyn
    @DickfromBrooklyn

    Susan, I am looking over your shoulder at the Ricochet article you are about post. 

    Are you sure you want to use the future perfect tense in the second sentence?  

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Dick from Brooklyn (View Comment):

    Susan, I am looking over your shoulder at the Ricochet article you are about post.

    Are you sure you want to use the future perfect tense in the second sentence?

    @dickfrombrooklyn, shame on you! Didn’t your mother teach you any manners??

    • #7
  8. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    Does anyone else find this disgraceful?

    No. I think it’s funny as hell and there should be much, much more of it.

    As an everyday bicyclist, I believe the greatest danger I face – or which is behind me, or next to me, and closing fast – is people on telephones. At least drunks have the sense to pretend they are driving competently. Now, people on telephones who are also driving cannot be embarrassed by snoopers, or maybe by anybody at all. But when I see one who is just sitting in traffic, I wheel right up and look right in.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    John H. (View Comment):
    Now, people on telephones who are also driving cannot be embarrassed by snoopers, or maybe by anybody at all. But when I see one who is just sitting in traffic, I wheel right up and look right in.

    Well, now, that kind of snooping is deserved, @johnh!

    • #9
  10. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    We live in a world where people carry on phone conversations inside public restroom stalls. I can only assume that old-fashioned notions like “decorum” and “common human decency” are suspended when electronic communication is concerned.

    • #10
  11. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    A story from several years ago:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2867973/Football-fan-passes-note-man-sitting-claiming-pregnant-girlfriend-cheat-spotted-sending-romantic-texts-man-game.html

    • #11
  12. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    I was recently on the NY subway, and everyone around me was staring at their devices. I was curious, so I glanced at a couple screens, just to see what they were doing.  It took me a few seconds before I realized I was probably stepping over the line, but since they were all absorbed in their devices, nobody noticed…

    Remember back in the day when people read the newspaper over each other’s shoulders?  That was annoying, too, but far less personal. 

    • #12
  13. LC Member
    LC
    @LidensCheng

    It’s beyond tacky when strangers read over your shoulder in public. But to comment as well? Wow! Do people feel shame anymore? 

    • #13
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    LC (View Comment):

    It’s beyond tacky when strangers read over your shoulder in public. But to comment as well? Wow! Do people feel shame anymore?

    Nope. In fact, I’m sure some try to justify themselves, LC!

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    PHenry (View Comment):
    I was recently on the NY subway, and everyone around me was staring at their devices. I was curious, so I glanced at a couple screens, just to see what they were doing. It took me a few seconds before I realized I was probably stepping over the line, but since they were all absorbed in their devices, nobody noticed…

    There’s definitely a temptation–especially on a plane when I’m bored and someone is watching a movie I think I’ve seen. Still, it’s a movie, not a love letter . . .

    • #15
  16. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    We live in a world where people carry on phone conversations inside public restroom stalls. I can only assume that old-fashioned notions like “decorum” and “common human decency” are suspended when electronic communication is concerned.

    I always hesitate to flush when I see someone in the restroom on the phone, but that is, after all, the nature of the business at hand. I often wonder what the person on the other end thinks, but it never seems to embarrass the bathroom caller, somehow. I haven’t yet moved on to more obnoxious sounds, but I am tempted.

    • #16
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    PHenry (View Comment):
    I haven’t yet moved on to more obnoxious sounds, but I am tempted.

    Moose calls are good.

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Moose calls are good.

    Woo-hoo! Would love to be there!

    • #18
  19. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Woo-hoo! Would love to be there!

    in the restroom?  ;) 

    • #19
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Moose calls are good.

    Woo-hoo! Would love to be there!

    The other one is when some so-and-so is in the stall on his phone, answer as if he is talking to you very loudly. I prefer to do it in a voice like Mater from the Cars series (Larry the Cable Guy).

    JW: Hello?

    Me: Well hi, how are you? You havin’ a good movement in there?

     

    • #20
  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I would never read over someone’s shoulder, but in that brief period after cell phones had become ubiquitous but before texting was available, I did occasionally offer helpful verbal asides.

    At least thought that they were helpful.

    • #21
  22. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    I’m suspicious of that story if the author implied he was unaware of the woman next to him. How  could you not know that someone was close enough to you to read who you are texting unless you have  peripheral vision problems. And then, the woman has the temerity to ask him if he’s married to the text recipient?

    • #22
  23. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    “Officious ” is the word.  I don’t have the citation handy, but I know we all do have  the right to be let alone.  Bug OFF!! (Not you, SQ, the snoopers…) 

    • #23
  24. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Rude and wrong

    • #24
  25. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    In the early days of office desktops, there were anti-snooping polarized screens. I imagine the same could be done in a removable film applied to laptop, tablet and phone screens. Else, assume your words and images are trending on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

    A decade back there were stories of French agents buying business class seats behind American businessmen to purposes of inflight industrial espionage. Reading or recording laptop screens and conversations. 

    • #25
  26. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    LC (View Comment):
    Do people feel shame anymore? 

    That’s the problem. Our society no longer shames. As a matter of fact, shaming is becoming a crime.

    You don’t want to be accused of curiosity-shaming, do You?

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    I’m suspicious of that story if the author implied he was unaware of the woman next to him. How could you not know that someone was close enough to you to read who you are texting unless you have peripheral vision problems. And then, the woman has the temerity to ask him if he’s married to the text recipient?

    I don’t text but I can easily imagine being absorbed in writing or reading a text. There were several stories in the article. 

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    LC (View Comment):
    Do people feel shame anymore?

    That’s the problem. Our society no longer shames. As a matter of fact, shaming is becoming a crime.

    You don’t want to be accused of curiosity-shaming, do You?

    Ooh I’d love to be known for that! 

    • #28
  29. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I don’t text but I can easily imagine being absorbed in writing or reading a text. There were several stories in the article. 

    I’m suspicious by nature, so pay no attention to me. Could be the author didn’t explain the full details of this particular incident that would make it more  believable. On the other hand, could be he needed to hand in a story and got a bit creative, which, I might add, doesn’t mean there is no cause for privacy concerns. Your OP is a reminder that we need to be more cautious with our phones.

    • #29
  30. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    In the early days of office desktops, there were anti-snooping polarized screens. I imagine the same could be done in a removable film applied to laptop, tablet and phone screens. Else, assume your words and images are trending on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

    A decade back there were stories of French agents buying business class seats behind American businessmen to purposes of inflight industrial espionage. Reading or recording laptop screens and conversations.

    Sheesh.  When did people stop being human? Forget business, you’re in the air! Enjoy the free drinks, crane at the grainy movie, snore with the dubious  pilled  blanket pulled up to your chin, engage in earnest conversation with that never-to-be-seen-again stranger in the next seat.  It’s No-Time, in the air, crossing time zones, flying into the dawn.  Look UP, you bozos!

    • #30

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