Last week I traveled to the West Coast for the first time; I took a short trip to San Diego, California. And number one on my San Diego to-do list was visit the zoo.
While we were there, something struck me as odd.
There were no metal detectors. No one inspected the bags (bags the zoo even encouraged you to bring). There was no immediately obvious surveillance. You scanned your ticket, walked through the turnstile and that was it, you were in the zoo.
Both my husband and I immediately noticed and commented on this lack of search, something growing up near Washington D.C., neither of us were used to.
Our expected protocol is surveillance.
And not just in and around the Capital; bags are inspected before allowing you entrance to a home football game at Virginia Tech (I think they even have to be clear, as of this past year).
Having our possessions searched, inspected, surveilled is not just commonplace, but expected.
We even made a jokes about it.
And this got me thinking, where else in my life have I become compliant with surveillance? And how do I feel about this? Does the intent of the surveillance matter to me? The final use of the data obtained? Where do I make distinctions between acceptable and unacceptable surveillance?
Is there a world, a culture, a people out there not as comfortable with surveillance as I have become? Even just within the United States- how would all those people visiting the San Diego Zoo feel standing in line for the National Zoo waiting to have their bags checked? (And do they even do that? Its been so long since I’ve been to the National Zoo I’m really only assuming they do based off my other encounters in Washington D.C.) Did it strike anyone else as odd that we weren’t being searched?
As always, I have more questions than answers.