The aesthetics of security


The house I live in is fronted by a rather large metal door with 2 deadbolts. My roommate Julio showed me how to lock these when I first arrived, impressing on me the importance of locking both of them each night before going to bed for security. The top deadbolt takes no less that six complete turns of the key until it is completely cranked and the bottom, smaller one takes two turns. It strikes me that the “extra security” of turning the locks all the way is pretty minuscule, but I think it makes Julio “feel” safer to have to turn the locks a bunch of times.

I have long been fascinated by the aesthetics and illusions of security. We see this at work all the time (especially post 9-11) at the airport. How safe are we really being made by removing our shoes? How much of a threat is my toenail clipper or a lighter? These items and the senseless screening that goes on at many airports are providing nothing but an “aesthetic” and “illusion” of security without real benefit. But I suppose it makes people more comfortable that “something” is being done to protect them. (For an excellent discussion of the ridiculousness of current airport security, see this article from the NY Times.)