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Does privacy keep us together?

Sometimes hotel staff have a look at the guest’s belongings. One guest at an undisclosed (1) city in the US decided to leave a camera in his unoccupied room. The camera had been turned on (2).

The footage shows the hotel cleaner tinkering with the guest’s possessions, including his videogames and computer. The cleaner did tidy up the guest’s room and took nothing away.

However, the guest put the footage online and more than 1 million people have seen the video so far.

This raises some very deep questions. First of all: why are so many people interested in watching something that seems totally uninteresting at first glance? Secondly, if the footage is real, why did the guest make it? Was he afraid that some of his belongings might get stolen? Or was this just a deliberate attempt to peep (3) into someone else’s privacy?

Perhaps this is the more likely scenario. We have always been very keen to watch other people’s secret moments.

Technology is now helping make this dream come true. Our power to spy on people around us has become enormous: secret filming has, in under 20 years, gone from being a highly specialized skill to something anyone can do effortlessly. Electronic communication can also be monitored quite easily these days.

The intentions behind more supervision can be good: parents wanting to know about their children, or their elderly relatives. But if we see everything, there won’t be any room left for private secrets. And without private secrets, no real trust can develop between people. Protecting the privacy of individuals therefore amounts to protecting the bonds of friendship and the cohesion of society at large.

At the end of the day, taking such footage is no different from tinkering (4) with someone else’s belongings. Except that through its internet outreach, it can inspire further similar actions.



  1. What happened in the ‘undisclosed’ hotel room somewhere in the US mentioned in the article?
  2. Does the article suggest that whatever happened there was interesting?
  3. What explanation for the action of the hotel guest does the article offer?
  4. Was it, according to the article, difficult for the guest to undertake his action?
  5. What are, according to the article, the broader implications of such actions?
  6. Have you ever done something similar to what is described in the article? What made you do it?
  7. Do you agree with the article that too much monitoring might be detrimental to friendship and society?


undisclosed (1) – used to describe information which is not given to the public

turn on (2) – to put into operation; activate.

peep (3) – to look at something quickly and secretly, especially through a hole or opening

tinkering (4) – to make small changes to something in order to repair it or make it work better


You can find additional explanation and more examples to help you understand and use English words and phrases at https://dictionary.reference.com, https://dictionary.cambridge.org/, https://www.merriam-webster.com/ or https://www.ldoceonline.com/