Snarky Behavior

The Illusion of Privacy

August 6, 2007 · 1 Comment

I was reading through an article in the New York Mag about how difficult it is for our parent’s generation to understand how blase our generation has become toward the issue of privacy.

The irony, of course, is that our parents– who lived through the tumultous sixties– presumably had much more to conceal from their youth than we could possibly imagine… and yet things still turned out peachy for them. They had their mulligan. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same luxury.

I’ve written before about the “new” right to privacy, and what that entails in a digital age. Right to privacy fundamentally means the power to conceal information about yourself that others might use to your disadvantage. But, is that even a reasonable expectation anymore?

Younger people, one could point out, are the only ones for whom it seems to have
sunk in that the idea of a truly private life is already an illusion. Every
street in New York has a surveillance camera. Each time you swipe your debit
card at Duane Reade or use your MetroCard, that transaction is tracked. Your
employer owns your e-mails. The NSA owns your phone calls. Your life is being
lived in public whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. So it may be time to consider the possibility that young people who behave as if privacy doesn’t exist are actually the sane people, not the insane ones.

One thing I’ve learned while working in the capacity of public relations is that if you (and by you I range from the largest corporation such as Walmart, all the way to the snarky individual such as myself) don’t take the time to transparently define yourself accurately, someone else will anonymously and publicly define you inaccurately.

As for the individual, fairly or unfairly, it’s a reality that hiring managers are using Myspace, Facebook and Linkedin to evaluate candidates. The catch-22 is that you are now at a disadvantage by NOT sharing your information (i.e. education, job-history, skills, interests). And even if you utilize the privacy settings on Facebook, hiring managers can circumvent your walled garden by browsing through the profiles of your friends who don’t use the setting. And all of those drunken photos you (and I) untagged of ourselves at our themed parties can be backdoored. (Whoops).

For me, the benefit and utility of facebook and this blog are of much greater value to me than their potential costs. Granted, I might feel differently in the future. But to some degree, I hope that the hiring manager who would consider discriminating against me for so publicly sharing my thoughts on any given subject (and you can pick your poison here), would also appreciate that I write cognizant of the fact that my words can be held against me:

The public life is fun. It’s creative. It’s where their friends are. It’s
theater, but it’s also community: In this linked, logged world, you have a
place to think out loud and be listened to, to meet strangers and go deeper
with friends.

And that’s more than enough for me.

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1 response so far ↓

  • PSM // August 8, 2007 at 4:31 am | Reply

    Damn, you can write. I will be exploring more of your Blog. If I find anything objectionable, I’ll be sure to hold it against you and notify the proper authorities.

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