"I think the question becomes, Do people care?" he asks. "There's a measure of indifference here." Plageman thinks people so love the conveniences of modern digital life, and believe their own online existences are so trivial, that they don't see much of a downside to being spied on.
The rejoinder to this has generally gone to the other extreme. In response to Wagner's post, one commenter shot back with the famous verse attributed to Martin Niemoller, the famous Nazi-era German pastor, about not speaking up in the face of tyranny -- the one that concludes, "Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me."
Neither extreme is necessary, say experts. You can exert some control over your online life by taking simple steps such as thinking before you post, doing regular cookie deletions, password changes and antiviral runs, and making sure you've got your social-media privacy settings in order. And remember: There's more to life than being online.
As technology theorist danah boyd (who, like e.e. cummings, spells her name in lower-case letters) points out, we're always interacting with various realms: the state, the individual, the collective and the corporation. Even if we try to opt out -- go "off the grid," so to speak -- we still have identities formed by what others know about us.
"It's not just what you give away, it's what you give off," boyd says. "If you decide you want to opt out of Facebook, that's all fine and well. But most likely, your friends have given Facebook pictures of you -- they've done a lot of different things to build a model of someone who's not even there."
Or, as Sieberg puts it, "It's worth remembering that our activity online isn't in a vacuum. How people -- friends, employers, colleagues -- perceive us can be the sum total of our Internet behavior."
Maybe we can draw some lessons from the demographic group that's most socially engaged: teenagers.
A recent Pew study indicates that though teenagers are sharing more of themselves than ever, they're also using code to hide that information from others. That concept meshes with boyd's field work, she observes.
In one of the cases she studied, a teen who had recently broken up with her boyfriend was worried her mother would overreact to her sadness and believe her suicidal. So instead of posting a "woe-is-me" message -- from which her mother would jump to conclusions -- she went the opposite tack and posted the song lyrics from Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." Her friends got the message right away.
"In the decade I've been watching teenagers, I've watched them get more and more sophisticated in encoding meaning," boyd says.
OK, the pessimists say, but codes can be cracked. And yes, there's always a place for wariness. "Person of Interest's" Plageman is less concerned with the surveillance state per se and more with how long the government will hold on to information. Sieberg urges parents to talk to their children about being smart online.
But there's no putting the genie back in the bottle once it's started sharing memes on Facebook. If you must be a Web celebrity, at least do so with self-awareness, experts say.
"Clearly we live in special times," says Vaynerchuk, who nonetheless remains optimistic that we'll sort out these issues.
"I will always take the bad 1% with the good 99%," he says.