“At Panera grabbing lunch, this Panini is delish!” #nomnomnom
“OMG, this vacay to Cabo is going to be a blast! Off to get some sun, see you in a week!” –feeling excited
“So annoyed with my boyfriend, he is just so rude!” (changes relationship status to ‘It’s complicated.’)
If you scroll through your social media feeds right now, I guarantee 50% – 75% of the posts will be something similar to these. As social media has become a bigger part of society, conversations about online privacy are almost as popular as conversations about Game of Thrones.
The most debated part of the convo? Whether or not lack of privacy on the Internet is a byproduct of the transition from old-school ideals to new-school norms or something more. Is this mentality of “tell me everything” something we should be scared of?
Social Media Blamed for Oversharing
Earlier this year the Today Show aired a segment called “Does the Internet Make Privacy Unattainable?” In it, a private investigator posed as a psychic and gave a “reading” to a woman using information he’d found on her online. He was able to tell the woman her mom’s name, her favorite soda and describe her tattoo.
This may be scary to many people, but most of the information came from what the woman posted on her social media pages. The amount of information people share online has increased dramatically in the past few years.
Think about it. Before Twitter and Instagram, we could only show off our new outfit or yummy lunch if someone was with us. Now, we can broadcast anything to millions of people. In 2010, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke on the growing topic of privacy, saying that people are more comfortable sharing information because of the evolving social norm.
Is Social Media New-School Cool or a Trend that Needs to Go?
The effects of this changing social norm will be most evident in Generation Y, the first generation to have access to technology from a young age. It is not uncommon to see a ten-year-old or even a baby attached to an iPad or smartphone, and they can often work it better than someone five times their age. The idea of sharing every aspect of their life is not scary because it’s been such a huge part of their life. To most, actually, it’s appealing. Whether this comes from a desire for transparency or a fetish for reality TV, the need to document their lives has never been more present than in Generation Y, no matter what the risk.
Older generations, however, are wary of what online sharing really means. They come from a time that honored privacy above all else. I mean, do you really think today’s press would have looked the other way on JFK’s affairs? He would have made more magazine covers than the entire Kardashian family combined.
To many people not born during the age of over sharing, the idea blogging about food, fashion or fandoms is not only preposterous, it’s just plain silly. Instead of trying to understand and adapt to this change, many people prefer to look at it with fear. Yes, some aspects of more information are scary, but there are also many benefits. It is now easier than ever to reconnect with friends and family or get more support for small businesses. People in Egypt even used social media to overturn a dictatorship.
As with any change, social media and its effects on privacy will be heavily debated for years, especially as the effects of so much sharing become more apparent. To protect yourself online, be careful about posting when you will be out of town or broadcasting your shiny new flat screen. You can share your life with people, but make sure not to put yourself in danger.