Privacy no longer exists according to one of my professors. I think that he is mostly true. The concept of privacy still exists but privacy itself doesn’t any longer. Think about it, at one time many personal details were kept a secret amongst one person and those they trusted. Now, the same information is available to anyone who desires to know it. The Internet, and cell phones have erased the lines of what is private and what is public in society’s eyes.
The Internet has become the way that people chronicle their lives. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking websites allow people to upload their life to the web and share the information with anyone who cares to look. Specifically, the current generation of middle school and high school students has grown up knowing only this virtual world. For these teenagers anything that happens in their life is Facebook worthy despite the fact that the same life event may have once been considered private. They’re a generation that has grown up without privacy. Not only has the Internet allowed people to share every aspect of their lives with the world, but it has also allowed for people to be able to find whatever information they want to about a person. There is no way to pick and choose who sees personal information on the Internet. The information is private if it’s not online and it’s public if it is online. There are no other choices with the Internet.
A friend pointed out to me recently that now when people say they’re going to a separate room to gain privacy from people, they really gain no privacy at all. They go into that separate room and go on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. They text and e-mail with people. There really is no way to escape communication at this point unless you make the decision to turn off your cell phone and all access to social media and e-mail. To gain privacy now almost means shutting yourself off from the world.
Cell phones have altered personal communication. People no longer have personal conversations only face to face. People now use text messaging to have all sorts of conversations with people. By taking the personal aspect of face-to-face conversations out of the equation people oftentimes are more inclined to ask questions that invade someone else’s privacy. Without the instant physical repercussions to invading another person’s privacy people feel that there is less risk to get involved in other people’s business and ask overly personal questions.
I think the biggest problem with privacy is not how much of it has been lost, but how its being lost and how many people don’t understand the repercussions of putting information out there on the web. Private information can be leaked instantly and never again can it be recalled. Think of Beyonce and the pictures from her Superbowl performance; when she asked that they be removed form the Internet people instead photoshopped them in different weird ways. People have thrown caution a bit too much to the wind and damage themselves permanently by putting overly personal and oftentimes inappropriate information on the web. Do you really want to be like the people that Ellen Degeneres called out on her shows for the strange pictures they posted online. Think of the embarassment.
It’s ok to use social media as a way to chronicle and share good memories but discretion is something that should be kept in mind. When putting something online think to yourself ‘Will this at any time become something that I either find incredibly embarrassing and or could negatively affect someone’s opinion of me?’ If the answer is yes then don’t post it.