Have we forgotten what privacy means?

Posted on


Privacy, although often talked about, is not something that people of this generation are actively pursuing.

Why not? Is it because we nolonger wish to live private lives?

I’ve talked to many people with a very large online presence, so I understand the glamour that comes with having millions of followers to “like” your every post. I get it, I really do. Our lifestyles the past few decades have changed to accommodate the ever increase technology and social media platforms, and that has also led us to share our every day menial tasks and celebrations to the world wide web through facebook, twitter, instagram, snapchat, and the list goes on.

We know this risks our physical safety (to have thousands of strangers know where we are, what we are doing, what the name of our dog is, what our family and friends look like) but now, with pattern recognition software in social media networks such as facebook, these platforms can, with some accuracy, predict: whether a couple will break up or not based on profile view data, if breast cancer impact a female’s life based on the facebook pages she “likes”, and what brands you are most likely to purchase based on your google searches. All this data helps marketers and advertisers somewhat influence your purchasing behavior, and in the future, may even manipulate your purchasing decisions. 

Marketers put sexually appealing women in ads or attractive photos of food to trigger a Pavlovian response. Commercial images in magazines and TV affect what our society thinks is beautiful or worth aspiring toward. Hyper-personalized ads that target us based on our entire life history of data may someday be able to influence us in ways we can’t comprehend. I’d like to believe I have free will, but undoubtedly, advertising has impacted decisions I’ve made during the course of my life.

Still, there is a great need for privacy. I’m not just talking about government conspiracies.

Chances are the world doesn’t care about your day to day problems, and though it’s nice to share your thoughts with others, you can choose who to share with instead of broadcasting it to the world. Call up a friend, invite them over and share it with them. It will not only build a better relationship between the two of you, but it will save you from getting your home broken into when you’re out for vacation.

We change over time, but if you post something online, it stays there forever. Even the posts I posted two or three years ago are embarrassing to reread. Even if I delete it, I know it will always be somewhere online in the world wide web waiting for some hacker to find.

We say we want privacy, but we don’t actively pursue privacy. We post up photos onto social media platforms, we share personal information (sometimes even security questions for credit cards and social security), we sign documents without reading through the fine print, and we “friend” random strangers in the hopes of feeling a little less lonely.