Smile, You’re on Candid Camera - Always
There is no privacy, I think we can all agree on that. We are watched, either knowingly or unknowingly. So many devices, so many cameras pointed at us. Pretty sure my TV watches me as much as I watch it. Poor thing, bored out of its digital mind, if my life is its only entertainment. My life is boring. ALEXA periodically shouts out, ‘Doing something, Al’ even though I don’t even own an ALEXA. With all these electronic eyes on me, I should be used to it, and know how to act in front of them.
This is a story born out of corporate America. With members of my work team all over the country, all over the world, it would be difficult to get everyone in one place for meetings. We have conference rooms that hold multiple big screen television called ‘TelePresence Rooms’. Basically, TVs with cameras to allow each group to see their co-workers in other locations. A few months ago, our new manager wanted to get to know everyone. That would be my first foray into a multiple location, TelePresence meeting. Huddled into a room, about fifteen of us gathered around a table. On the screen, multiple videos appeared along the bottom of the screen. When it started, whomever was speaking, the main video shifted to that group. During the course of the meeting, anytime someone in our room spoke, the video never shifted to show our group.
When it was over, I turned to my supervisor, “I guess the camera didn’t work; I never saw our group on the monitor”.
He informed me, that you never see your own group, but the others can see us.
With that information, I did a quick replay of the last forty minutes in my head. Had I touched, scratched, or made any inappropriate facial expressions that I thought were private? Damn technology.
A few months later, with a second meeting scheduled, I was ready. In another TelePresence room, the all-seeing, unblinking eye stared at me, but this time, my hands folded, face frozen. I was not going to be caught unaware. Often, in these meetings, if you let your guard down, make the slightest noise, the camera will pounce on you, and your face will fill the screen. Too many times, when someone reached for something, the camera jumps to them, even though they have nothing to say. Think Marco Rubio and his awkward, on camera, drink from that damn plastic water bottle.
You don’t want to be Rubioed at work.
Then, it happened.
For those who work in corporations, you know what these meetings are like. Everyone is incredibly polite, some corporate-speak buzz words tossed about like novelty gifts from a T-shirt cannon, all smiles all the time.
In the ‘Twilight Zone’ episode ‘The Good Life’, Billy Mumy played a six-year-old boy with godlike powers. Everyone around him had to have happy thoughts, and be all smiles. If not, he would do terrible things to you, like have your head pop off like a Jack-in-the-Box. If he was nice about it, you were mercifully wished ‘out into the corn field’.
That was us, all smiles, never a bad thought. Then someone let loose a remark, packed to the rim with just too many buzzwords. Everyone applauded, and that’s when I did it.
I rolled my eyes.
A second later, I waited for my head to fly off my neck. Had anyone seen it? Would I be wished out into the cornfield for being fed up with so much corporate mumbo-jumbo?
I waited, but my head stayed attached.
Later, after the meeting ended, a co-worker who sat on the other side of the table from me said, “I saw what you did”. I had been found out, but fortunately, she was on my side of the camera.
Next time, I will be better prepared. Maybe sunglasses to mask the eye roll when someone says ‘collaborate’ or ‘synergy’ fifteen times to fulfill that corporate bingo game they play in their head.
The camera won’t catch me.
I just don’t want to be wished out into the cornfield.