Eyes Forward, Asshole! Quit Looking at My Screen

Illustration for article titled Eyes Forward, Asshole! Quit Looking at My Screen

On my flight Tuesday, the dude sitting next to me was staring at my laptop the entire time. Look, I know the middle seat sucks. And true, Gulliver's Travels is a great flick. But knock it off!


People looking over your shoulder at your laptop. It's an incredibly annoying and increasingly common issue. Wifi is seemingly everywhere in public spaces now, so much that when it's not present it's almost surprising. And so quite often we're sitting around with our laptops open on airplanes, or trains, or in cafes around a bunch of strangers. Moreover, modern laptops all tend to have viewing angles wider than your mom's ass, making it super easy (and tempting) to check out our neighbor's screens.

This is more than just an annoyance though. It's a security risk. You never know when the person looking over your shoulder might be hoping to catch you inputting a password. Or it might just happen to be one of your competitors, who gets an eyefull of your confidential documents. Not only do you have a right to ask Johnny Looks-a-Lot to stop, you've got a duty to make that peeping pervert knock it off.


There are a few ways to go about it.

Tactic One: Passive

This is probably the most common thing I see people do when they notice a side-eye. They angle themselves so that their screen faces away from the peeper, or so that their body physically blocks the display. This is pathetic. You should never move just because an aggressor has violated your space. That's like putting up a fence to keep the neighbors out of your pool when clearly, you should drown them.

Tactic Two: Passive Aggressive

Here's another common tactic. You notice someone is looking at your screen. So you fire up Twitter, or Facebook, or an IM chat window and type something ostensibly for a third party but actually designed for your viewer like, "this dude is totally reading over my shoulder right now. So annoying!"


You know what else is annoying? Passive aggressive notes. If you're going to do this, at least have the decency to write it in 40 point type so your nemesis will actually see it. It might shame your onlooker into facing forward again, but it also might just make the person amused or even bolder.

And the people on the receiving end of your IM or Tweet? They're going to think you're weaker than a generic paper towel soaking in a puddle of O'Douls.


Tactic Three: Aggressive

Now we're getting somewhere. The aggressive move is to simply confront the person. A simple "hey, please quit looking at my screen," is good. Being polite yet firm is key. You don't have to go full on guns-blazing. After all, dude is probably just bored, and you may be sitting next to each other a lot longer.


But there's a big drawback here: your secret peeper can simply deny that he or she was looking at your screen. And then what will you do? Call him or her a liar? Of course, even if they do deny it, your problem is likely already solved. Most people won't look again. It would take orangutan balls to stare at your screen again after being verbally chastised for doing so. But others definitely will. (Like me!)

Oop-oop, motherfucker. Oop-oop.

Tactic Four: Full Frontal Assault

Nobody has a right to look at your screen without your permission. Well, other than the IT guy in your office who is probably already planning to blackmail you one day. Anyone else is committing a visual trespass, and you need to counterstrike their eyeballs. I have a preferred method.


This is a Goatse moment. A chance for Tubgirl to bathe in the warm santorum of her porcelain chamber. Time to throw a lemon party. Four words: two girls one cup. When I catch somebody secretly looking at my screen, I hit back with a shock site.

Timing is everything. In the instant before I pull up whatever vile and degrading filth I've chosen, I slyly look at the person peeping at my screen. It's vital to catch them in the act of reacting. Almost certainly, they will be shocked. At the very least, surprised. Human nature will then unconsciously cause them to look up at me, to see just what kind of horrifying human being it is that they wound up next to, here in seat 17B.


And that's when they see me already looking back at them, smiling sweetly, and moving my hand ever so slowly closer (oh so very, very close!) to theirs. It's a delightfully disturbing way to make unwanted eyeballs never look your way again.

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Or you could grab a 3m privacy filter: [solutions.3m.com] . They come in a variety of sizes designed to fit most screens.

I do realize you're probably just venting, but in the real world there are a lot of security implications involved with laptops/mobile devices in public places, and you're not observant to notice everyone who's doing it to you. It's much better to take active measures to ensure these things just aren't possible. And people's eyes are naturally drawn towards movement, especially in dull environments, so most people will do it even though they intend not to.