The Fox News contributor really couldn't think of a good reason to deprive the world the pleasure of ogling his torso. After all, admiring his own chiseled awesomeness has kept him entertained for years.
Before positioning himself in front of one of his favorite mirrors, the newsman grabbed his smartphone, his red-tinted shades and a towel he could use strategically in the unlikely event he was overcome by actual feelings of modesty.
Without further ado, the man who contemplated a run for the New Jersey Senate earlier this year photographed himself nearly nude before tweeting it to his followers.
Word quickly spread across the social media universe that Mr. Rivera was having one of those discretion-free moments that most people would dread as a sign of the onset of cognitive impairment of some kind:
"70 is the new 50 (Erica and family are going to be pissed ... but at my age ...)," he tweeted.
In one short burst, Mr. Rivera displayed a stunning lack of self-awareness that was still, even in its utter cluelessness, able to anticipate the likelihood of blowback from his family. The last thing the once highly regarded former investigative reporter imagined coming his way was the universal mockery that rained down on him within minutes of the tweet's publication.
While Geraldo has always been comfortable going wherever the intersection of narcissism and new media will lead him, most of us have an instinctive revulsion about the prospect of sharing too much about ourselves. Some things -- like the way we look like in the steam of the bathroom mirror -- should be private.
Mr. Rivera disseminated a tweet that would've embarrassed even the likes of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose own "selfie" is featured on the cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone. On some primordial, lizard-brain level, perhaps Geraldo thought he could steal some of Tsarnaev's thunder with his own selfie.
While Mr. Rivera was tweeting a nearly nude photo of himself, America's increasingly massive surveillance state was working on new ways to gather information about the rest of us.
Because most of us don't aspire to Geraldo-like levels of exhibitionism, the government prefers to keep secret its methods for tracking and monitoring us. But when it comes to keeping secrets, the government's track record is about as negligible as its respect for our civil liberties.
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report about a little-known surveillance technology that automatically reads and tracks the license plates on our cars.
In a report titled "You Are Being Tracked," the ACLU explained how local and state police departments across the country are recording the plate number, date, time and location of passing cars and filling enormous databases with info about millions of drivers who have committed no crimes.
Using automatic license plate readers mounted on police cars, bridges and road signs, law enforcement has begun erecting a network that makes the tracking and surveillance of most cars routine.
Keeping track of the driving habits of a small number of known or suspected criminals is the rationale for storing data on millions of law-abiding drivers. There's also little or no oversight of this data and no regulation about how the information is to be used, interpreted or shared. No uniform rules exist about how long the information is to be stored. There is no automatic purging of the data.
This network also appears to be evolving based on the minute-by-minute needs of law enforcement, with little regard for the privacy of ordinary citizens. If this was something that most citizens, via their elected officials, agreed to through legislation, that would be one thing. But when it comes to the expansion of this burgeoning surveillance state in our lives, the pattern of recent years is clear: collect the data first and ask permission -- if at all -- later.
This is not how things should be done in a democracy. It goes without saying that this massive collection of data is happening without informed input from us -- the once-sovereign "We" in "We, the People."
Most of us aren't interested in over-sharing a la Geraldo Rivera on Twitter, but we end up over-sharing anyway by virtue of existing in 21st century America, where citizenship is just another data point to be exploited.
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