Private Eyes…They’re Watching You!

Ok, I’ll admit that this is the lamest musical reference I’ve ever used in a title. Please forgive me. Today as I sat in my office, door open, typing an e-mail to a friend, a co-worker walked up to my door to ask a question. I left the e-mail up on the screen. I wasn’t writing anything scandalous or to anyone suspicious so I wasn’t too worried about the person seeing it. That got me to thinking about computer screen privacy and etiquette in the workplace, libraries, or coffee houses. Recently there has also been a commercial featuring an airline passenger using his laptop while his seat neighbors sneak peeks at the screen. My question is, if a person is using a computer in a public place such as those I’ve mentioned above, are we obligated to look away?

I know I find it almost irresistible to sneak a peek when I walk through my office and I see someone with their Yahoo or Hotmail on the screen. It’s not that I’m especially nosey or that I think my co-workers have anything to hide, I just seem to feel physically drawn to the screen as if it has it’s own gravitational pull. I don’t know why. If I was a cartoon character my eyes would do that thing (aaaah..ooooga!)where they project right out of my head. In fact, I’m considering laser eye surgery just so I can read people’s computers from a quarter mile away. I assume I’m not unusual in this irresistible urge. I’ve come up with a handy way to use this urge against others and to my advantage. I simply keep a fake e-mail minimized at the bottom of my screen and if anyone approaches I maximize it for them to “accidentally” read over my shoulder as I speak with them. Here’s what it says:

Dear (insert name corporate executive here),

Last night was wonderful. I hope we can do it again soon. Especially that trick you did with your…,well, you know (wink). I also hope you will take what I said into consideration. We can’t go on just ignoring the behavior of one co-worker to the detriment of the entire office. I fear that their shoddy work is going to harm the image of the company at some point and publicly embarrass us all. I know you don’t want to fire someone yet, so we’ll wait and see if they improve. No one suspects that I’m reporting to you, so for now I can continue to keep you informed. We just have to make sure that we behave as if we don’t know each other whenever you come into the office. Until next time….

Love, Phil

I also make sure to type it in at least 16 point so that’s it’s easy reading for any nosey co-worker. It works like a charm. Everyone is friendly to me and productivity in the office is way up. Occasionally someone even brings me cookies.

16 responses to “Private Eyes…They’re Watching You!

  1. YOu are such a goof. I, of Course, NEVER have Anything to hide on my computer screen cause I’m SUCH a good lil girl ***Sweet innocent smile***Jessica, btw, fix my link on your blogroll please :~) you have the one to my old blog!

  2. I look away most times, i just think it’s ettiquete. I’d hate to have someone staring over my shoulder, infact if that does happen i usually close the window. I just think it’s bad manners to stare.

  3. Jessica- Consider it done.Michelle- of course it’s bad manners to stare. You have to be really subtle so they have no idea that you’re looking! Derr! I had laser eye surgery last year just so I could read people’s computers from a km away. (That’s .6 miles for all my non-metric friends. See? I can communicate internationally. I’m just like David Hasselhoff.)

  4. I think it is totally natural to be drawn to the screen and catch a glimpse of someone else’s “other” life. I think curiosity is normal. I am not particularly interested in who is sleeping with whom, but if someone is Imming someone else on their work PC, and I come over to talk to them, I might glance over. But I think if they leave it up, they feel there is nothing juicy there, so curiosity goes away. If they minimize something as soon as they even hear you coming, then you know it is indeed juicy.-N

  5. i wish there was a way to instantly bring back my screensaver when someone approaches, with just a touch of a key and no i don’t want to turn it off. i minimize my personal email and things but there they are spread across the bottom tool bar thingy. i look away when anyone has the personal stuff up on their screen, not that i want to…lol…when i worked for the state everything was confidential so it’s just a habit.

  6. I say people are free to look. If your gonna do something in PUBLIC than its for the PUBLIC’S viewing.

  7. there was a man watching Tin Cup on the way to vegas…we watched over his shoulder…even though he had headphones in…

  8. You know it’s wrong to look but you can’t help it. It’s such an irresistible urge to peek into someone’s private space.

  9. Phil, were you dissing Hall & Oates? I resent that. Darrel was my boyfriend for about ten years and he is a gifted vocalist (ok so he didn’t KNOW he was my boyfriend…but he was)My bosses always catch me on Yahoo mail. I close the screen when they come near me because I AM writing stuff I don’t want them to see!

  10. Don’t tell your boss Phil, but I blog at work ALL the time.In fact, that’s about all I do at work.sssshhhh, I have some homemade cookies for you. Oh, and if it’s human hair you’re after, I’ve lots of that, too.

  11. If your computer is open on a plane, it’s fair game. Think of it as a newspaper or magazine. I once spent over an hour reading someone else’s newspaper on a plane. Fortunately the guy didn’t read faster than I do.

  12. I always look away, for a couple reasons…one we deal in confidentiality daily where I work…but I also look at it as I do snail mail… many of us like it if others read that?? So I don’t look, but it is difficult, especially in an office full of people who load screensavers that they WANT other’s to look at, so we are used to checking out the screen as we walk by.

  13. Last year I was at a Starbucks and this guy was watching a movie on his laptop..I tapped him on his shoulder and asked him if he minded that I was

  14. Nat- I agree with everything you said. I just used 500 words to say what you said in a comment.d.- You’re going to have to work on your telepathy. That way you can control your computer with just a thought. berly- My sentiments exactly. Princess- I love Tin Cup! I would have done the same. You know that scene where he just ruins his chances by trying to hit over the water repeatedly? I did that once long before I had ever seen the movie. That’s me to a “T”

  15. Cinthia- Exactly. Irresistable is the word.Barbara- Yes, I was kind of dissing Hall and or Oates. Not a big fan of their vacuos pop songs.Tai- Cookies and you’re hairy? Wow, you sound like my dream girl!Geewits- Don’t they shoot your for that in Texas?Sunny- I work with confidentiality too, but if you put it on your screen, it’s fair game I think.Heidi- At least you were polite. I hope he didn’t mind.

  16. LOL! One of my biggest pet peeves is when a person who has approached me to talk about something CAN NOT take their eyes off my screen.

Leave a Reply