Would you behave differently if you knew your every move was being recorded by a camera? Unless you are a Kardashian, the only honest answer here is probably “yes.” I now know for a fact that this is true for me.
In my building at work, there are cameras. On the first floor, at each door, and facing down each hallway. Ever mindful of the eye in the sky, I am always on my best behavior down there.
In the stairwell, however, there are no cameras, so this is where I let loose. Sprint up the stairs (usually late), jump the last three, hoot and holler, make hand gestures, you know, whatever I need to do.
For a long time, this is how it went. Prim and proper walking in the door, crazy in the stairs, doing whatever I want in the hall outside my office.
Until one day, I noticed, down at the end of the hall, on my floor, an ominous black box hanging from the ceiling in the same spot that the cameras hang on the first floor. “Oh no,” I thought. “There is a camera on this floor too.” I quickly started to panic, racing through my mind, thinking back on the crazy shenanigans I had pulled in the halls: jumping up to touch the ceiling, dancing, checking my watch, leering, more hand signals. I didn’t know who watched these cameras. I was seriously freaking out!
But you can’t look back, only forward. So I endeavored to be on my best behavior in all hallways always. The stairwell was my only refuge.
And it went like this for some time. Months and months. Sometimes I would catch myself doing something zany in the hallway, and would have to get myself in check.
But then one day, for whatever reason, I happened to be down at the far end of the hall, and I looked up…and discovered that the third floor camera is not a camera at all, but just an “Exit” sign from the side-view. Phew! You have no idea how relieved I was. Back to third-floor hallway zaniness.
Sometimes, still, I will catch myself checking myself when entering the third-floor hallway in fear of my antics being recorded by the non-existent third-floor camera. Old habits die hard, I guess. But it made me think. How different do we act when we know a camera is recording/someone is watching? Would we all answer that question the same? And what does our answer say about us?