Sunday, 18 July 2010

Privacy...what's that?

(Images sourced from Google Images -

Ahh the joys of living in a time where life is centred around modernisation. Technologists, scientists and the Japanese have brought us Ipod touches so you can never be bored on the tube again, economically friendly cars that emit about as many emissions as a dingy and so many different forms of communication, never again will it be acceptable to lose touch with an old friend.

But what with the BBMs, Tweets, texts, emails, instant messages, Facebook messages, Facebook chat, MSN, Pings and many more, are phone calls and catch up coffees becoming obsolete?

With old school friends, university buddies and family members all on your ‘Friends’ radar, each declaring who they are ‘Married to’, ‘In a relationship with’, and their likes and dislikes, you can find out just about anything without even dialling a number. Not to mention the millions of photos that are posted each day revealing to all what you look like, who your friends are and what state you got in on a Friday night out.

I am not socially backwards and I too have a Facebook profile that dons just about everything I have mentioned. But where do you draw the line on your own privacy? In many cases, through status updates, it is clear that people simply don’t. Not even a faint trace of pencil rubbings let alone a line.

You get the everyday ‘I love my boyfriend so much’, ‘I’m going on holiday in 5 days time’, and ‘I’m so proud my little boy slept through the night’, which I think are quite unnecessary but tolerable. Then you get those that completely push the invisible mark and bring nothing but shock. ‘I’m 5 weeks pregnant’, ‘I have a new angel RIP dad’, and the posting of baby pictures and sonograms!

I’m all for sharing news but considering around 75% of your Facebook ‘Friends’ are people you know vaguely but never see or talk to (you simply confirm them to boost your friend numbers – we’re all guilty!) so many of you bookers are freely willing to expose private and personal information at the drop of a hat.

It seems to me the minute bad news hits, or any news of that matter, ooh let’s put it on my status!

Is this a cry for attention or for sympathy perhaps? No longer is the happy surprise of ‘I’m getting married’ or ‘We’re pregnant’ news that is broken at a family meal or even during a weekly phone call but broadcast on a social networking site instead.

The popularity and over use of a site that now rules everyone’s lives in that it’s become imperative to check it at least once a day, if you’re on holiday with no access you get withdrawal symptoms and the fact many companies have had to ban it from employees computers, just goes to show the worlds obsession with notifications, updates and friend requests.

It would be hypocritical of me to say I don’t participate because I do but I think we have lost sight of the social substance’s purpose. It was originally created in America by a Harvard student for fellow university students to meet one another and make friends. Obviously it took off and is now used by 400 million members (lucky Mark Zuckerburg) but instead of it being a place to meet new people and form friends, it is used as a broadcasting vice to advertise as quickly as possible, to as many as possible, what is going on in their lives.

Facebook reads ‘Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them’ but should be changed to ‘Facebook is a fast an easy way to let the world know about your life, to encourage stalkers and strangers to follow you and to seek attention via comments and cyber friends opposed to real life socialising’.

It does have its benefits in terms of broadcasting information at the click of a button. For instance posting links to websites, as I do with my blog. Keeping in touch with those far away. And re-connecting with people from your past, but how often does that happen?!

But it seems to me too open during a time where we have to be most guarded. Having access to strangers profiles and pictures can be convenient when you want to check out who your ex is dating now and what that girl you used to work with 5 years ago is up to but personally, I think it’s slightly intrusive.

‘I had a lovely weekend at the beach’ or ‘Thank you for all the birthday messages’ is more my cup of tea and saves face at the same time rather than watching your dignity decrease with every typed letter. Private information should be kept as just that.

So however did we survive before without nosying at pictures, having birthday reminders and secretly stalking without the wonders of Facebook, Twitter and MSN? What must we have done with all that extra time on our hands? Oh yeah...socialised with real friends rather than cyber buddies!

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