Cam ham? I'll pass, thanks

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Danielle Lemire is whipping something up in her juicer. Now she's drinking it.

Peek-a-boo! It's the Dani Lemire Show! Live on the Internet, 24 hours a day.

To "shape up" for her wedding this weekend, Ms. Lemire cut a deal with a Healthshop.com: Free consultation and nutritional supplements for a few months in exchange for a Web cam in her home, USA Today reports.

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All the dishwashing drama you can take? Cameras are in the kitchen, living room, and her office. (Bed and bath are off limits.)

Ms. Lemire deserves credit for creativity and courage. But situations like these make me feel like an alien on my home planet.

I'm sure there are valuable uses for Web cams. No, not the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Cam. Or the Ashtray Cam. (I jest not, these exist.)

The best application may be the 100 or so day-care centers around the country that let parents watch their children (using a password) during the workday.

There's an automechanic spy cam, another reassuring cyber window. And I have no objection to animal shelters advertising abandoned puppies via Web cams.

But inviting legions of Peeping Toms and Tammys into your home all day, every day? No thank you.

How would a Web cam transform your household?

My wife and Youngest Daughter, who have few inhibitions, might grudgingly allow it. Oldest Daughter might accept the intrusion in exchange for a boost in her clothing allowance.

But I have no desire to become a honey-baked cam ham. When I wander out for a midnight snack, I don't want to consider whether I've got on my best T-shirt.

The spread of voyeuristic Web sites (and the popularity of Hollywood's "The Truman Show" and "EdTV") illustrate that our love of technology and our curiosity are insatiable.

The most famous of this genre, Jennifer Ringley's JenniCAM on her college dorm life, has spawned copycats and parodies. At least one woman gave birth on the Net. And there are dozens of weather cams, traffic cams, and office cams.

But what is the price for this loss of privacy?

Home, for me, is many things. A sanctuary. A place of rest and intimate conversation among family and friends. But a public stage?

I think not.

I'll gladly leave the virtual arena to the Madagascar hissing cockroaches and other higher-order exhibitionists.

*We're home. Tell us how we're doing. Write to Homefront, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail us at home@csps.com

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