Is privacy an illusion?


I went to the most excellent Social Media Camp London yesterday, many thanks again to Vero for organising such a great event.  It was my first barcamp event and I sat in talks on a wide variety of subjects. From how hedgehogs inspire social media  by Carl Jeffrey to how to help journalists become programmers, or vice versa, led by Mark Ng. Despite the seeming randomness of the topics, there were a couple of themes that kept creeping into almost every discussion, One was that perhaps Gen Y aren’t quite as digitally adept as previously suspected, but that’s a topic for another time, the one that had me thinking all the way home was about the erosion of privacy, and how can we now manage our various social faces.

The world still seems to be searching for a standard definition of social media, at PN we tend to say that it is an  amplification of already existing social dynamics.  People have always shared their experiences with each other, they’ve always whinged about bad service and complimented the good, it’s just now easier to whinge to more people.

But there are other aspects of being social creatures that I hadn’t really considered before, which is the management of our various social faces, or facets if you will.  It’s a very rare person that presents exactly the same persona to everyone they know, there is usually some element that we try to keep concealed or emphasise, which element that is will vary between our social groups. It can range from concealing from your parents just how much of a party animal you were at uni, to not letting your work colleagues know that you spend weekends dressed as an elf, running through the forest yelling “lightening bolt“.  Up until now its been fairly easy. Your fellow students are usually equally keen to tales of high jinx away from their parents too, and if a LARPer yells in the forest and there are no none-LARPers around, did it really happen?

But it’s no longer that simple. Drunken photos and videos will appear online as will the odd inappropriate comment on iStock_000004901645Medium your facebook wall. We’re becoming increasingly reliant on other people to help maintain our various social facets while at the same time those other people are becoming keener on sharing every aspect of their life as publicly as possible.

I’m interested in the coping strategies that we will develop. Will it become acceptable for everyone one to know everything about everyone else, or will there be a backlash and people will retreat from social media, severely limiting who they interact with online and policing any material that appears.  Or will we continue as is, conveniently forgetting what we do might end up biting us in the ass at some point in the future?

0 thoughts on “Is privacy an illusion?

  1. Hi,

    I suppose that’s assuming your parents haven’t been through the ’60s. Not sure about you, but mine were from the bell-bottom generation.

    And still, they ask me questions in code.

  2. Hello,

    Mine did go through the 60s but don’t think either of them ever wore bell-bottoms, Dad was more of a teddy boy I believe.

    That said as he was the one funding the debauchery at uni, I only felt it fair to give him only slightly edited highlights.

  3. @lloyd Glad you found me too, and thanks for the link too. Sorry we didn’t get to meet on Saturday and I promise I will tuttle at some point in the near future…:)

    @chris yeah, did almost set off my internal pretentious bollox alarm when typing that phrase. Then thought sod it, as I guess I’ll have to get used to it over the next four (eek) years.

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