Wow, it seems like I run into at least one person a day that has some sort of misguided fear aimed at social networks. It boggles my mind how many people have concocted elaborate stories in their heads about what they THINK social media is, mostly resulting in some conspiracy theory about how the government is spying on them. While this may be true, the government could be spying on everyone, but if they were, they would not need Facebook to do it. I am sure we were all tagged, processed and cataloged at birth.
So what’s the deal, why are so many people afraid of social media? Are you afraid that someone from the office Christmas party is going to post a picture of you drunk and urinating in the punch bowl? Or that maybe your current girlfriend will see that post from your latest conquest, thanking you for the good times in the restroom of the Starbucks near St. Marks?
Are you pissed off that your phone numbers and addresses magically appear on the Internet? Or that some ex-relationship will discover your secret online identity and begin stalking you?
There are also the people who believe if they post any information about what they are doing, the underground criminal masterminds lurking within their social networks will know when their castle is vulnerable for pillaging.
These fears may be legitimate, maybe we should all truly be afraid to leave the safety of our protective nests. However, the Internet is a powerful tool and if you bother to learn the tools rather than to be afraid of the tools, you might be able to navigate the field of modern social communication with a bit more confidence.
If you do not own and curate your online identity then someone else just might do it for you. If people post crazy pictures of you on Facebook, you will never know, unless you get tagged. At least then you could ask them to remove the picture, or flag it yourself as inappropriate so Facebook could then remove it.
A few months ago everyone freaked out about Facebook publishing their phone numbers, Facebook would NOT have your numbers to publish if you did not give them the number to begin with. (Except the Facebook iPhone app, which had the shady default of pushing your mobile number online, but only for your friends to access anyway. Fortunately, this (if you take the time to understand it before you use it) can be turned off.))
Owning your online identity is key to controlling how your image is perceived. The internet monster has grown way to large for anyone to hide from, especially if you are connected to the media business. If you are in any way some kind of content producer, who shares opinions and views with the world, it is just irresponsible of you to not own your online image.
I am interested in your feedback. Please post any thoughts or responses in the comments section.
I think the idea of having to “govern your own identity or someone else will” is the crux of the situation. You say there isn’t anything to fear… IF YOU PLAY THE GAME. IF you monitor other peoples activity, IF you sign up and give your information, IF you waste tons of time monitoring the behavior of other to maintain what exactly? Personal privacy. You suggest it isn’t a problem if you participate but part of what a lot of people enjoy in this world is Freedom of Choice (thanks DEVO). If they don’t want to participate they shouldn’t be threatened to do so for fear of their privacy being impeded upon. If not by corporations, then by irresponsible friends and associates. The problem with social media is that it forces “sociality”. Just because Person A wants to be social and Person B does not, this does not give Person A the right to do whatever they want with person B’s likeness or images. However, in MANY (not all) instances, Person A does whatever they want anyway.
Here is the issue. At it’s root, Social Media is rogue PUBLISHING. I say rogue because in traditional publishing, a great deal of the time (not all) traditional publishing has to deal with the issues of rights. CAN they publish this. CAN they publish that etc etc. Social publishing dismisses all of that en mass. In such a large mass that it becomes daunting and entirely unchecked and then simply accepted… by those participating. Not by those who aren’t. The problem isn’t with those who want to opt out.. the problem is with those who opt everyone else in without a CHOICE in the matter. That’s a major problem. I think it’s a problem with peoples relationship to digital media and the purveying attitude of digital entitlement. Whether or not it’s the idea that people are entitled to download and share movies, music or in this case… some other persons life experiences.