Don’t Look at My Screen

Let’s talk about screen privacy.

For me, screen privacy is a BIG deal. Why? Because I am super self-conscious and my anxious brain tells me that everyone around me is judgmental. 95% of the time, I’m not actually doing anything particularly embarrassing on my computer. Perhaps I’m writing or scrolling through Twitter or messaging my mom – nothing too weird, right? But that other 5% of the time, I really don’t want people looking at my screen. What if I’m *hypothetically* watching One Direction music videos while I write? Or googling up how to spell the word “parmesan” when autocorrect can’t help me. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing – I don’t want some stranger’s nosy eyes checking out my screen, passing quick judgments based on my Internet searches.

For many people, I’m sure this topic seems ridiculous and petty. You probably think I should just stop caring about what strangers think. And yes, that would be a wonderful solution to this problem. However, changing how my brain has functioned for the past 24 years is significantly harder than ranting on the Internet.

And I’m not the only one who cares about this stuff! Research on college campuses demonstrates that students are increasingly concerned about screen privacy, and the American Library Association has encouraged libraries to utilize screen privacy devices and semi-private workstations. Statistics and research aside, just have a look at your corner coffee shop where the number of people who flock to wall-adjacent tables demonstrate the importance of privacy in public workspaces.

Of course, I’m not an interior designer or a librarian, so I have zero influence on changing the configuration of these spaces. So I shall continue to scramble for the best table at Starbucks and attempt to care less about the opinions of nosy strangers. However, there is one more thing we can do – STOP LOOKING AT EVERYONE’S SCREENS. As a fairly nosy person, I’m plenty guilty of this myself. It seems like human nature that our eyes flit to the bright, interesting object across the room. I will do my best to eliminate this habit from my everyday life, both for the integrity of this blog post and the sanity of equally self-conscious individuals. But I’m going to need you to do the same. (Yes, I’m talking to you, dude who is sitting next to me in the airport while I write this.)

And if you’re a coffee shop owner or a librarian, I urge you to consider this feedback. True, your patrons could be engaging in unsavory activities on the Internet (even if they are, do you really want to see that?). But more likely, they’re just looking to watch some One Direction music videos, googling how to spell simple words, or sending cat pictures to loved ones. As much as the world may like to see those cat pictures, let’s give them a little privacy.

 

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