Monday, 22 February 2010

The SuperPennie Paradox

Privacy is one of those things that people used to take as a given, but these days doesn't really exist unless you try. Everybody knows everything and if they don't Facebook and the likes will be sure they get an update. This actually freaks me out an awful lot. Worse since December or whenever it was that Facebook got more with the sharing and removed loads of the privacy settings that were once available. Now if you do anything, everyone knows about it.

Somewhere in this ultimate openness lies a different kind of privacy. People are so bombarded with information that they don't really give a crap about they don't actually take much of it in. They have so many friends falling through their news feed that they don't actually pick much up. People start missing all the information they are being given. This is sometimes the best you can hope for in our modern day. Yipee.

Ok yeah, I could just delete all these accounts and solve the problem, only I need to stay connect. I'm a writer and a poet and I need to build up my contacts if I want to be known and get gigs etc etc. I hate phone conversations so would much rather message a friend than actually talk to them. I like being able to see any pictures anyone has taken of me that exist (not because I'm in love with myself, but 'cause I'm self conscious and I don't want ugly pictures floating about).

If you have a face, you can bet it's on cctv.
If you register for an Oyster card (that's how we get on public transport in London) then the machines know where you are at what time.
If you have a mobile phone you are completely findable anywhere - or at least anywhere with signal.
If you own a computer machines record your ip address. Machines remember what you're looking at and what you're buying. Machines know everything.

But that's not even what I want to talk about. I want to focus more on real human to human privacy and am just going to ignore the fact that we're practically living in 1984 and nobody is doing a thing about it.

I don't like people knowing things about me. If I wanted them to know, I'd tell them myself. It's not like my life is a big secret, my friends are entitled to whatever information they want. But I want to be involved in telling them, I don't want them to find out separate from me. And I also don't really understand why I'd just give away certain information for the sake of it. I know so many people that probably shouldn't be considered friends, more like acquaintances and those people aren't entitled to updates on my life (I'm sure they feel the same about me). But here is the SuperPennie Paradox.

I divulge information to people all the time. I have a blog. I have a YouTube. A Twitter. A Myspace. A Facebook. I'm connected to a world of faces and fingertips and I share a lot of myself. I'm sure it seems strange after all that to come out and say I'm a private person but somehow it's still true.

1 comment:

  1. I read a summary of some research a while back, generalising your situation. It suggested the paradox you describe only exists because most people talk about privacy in the language society has used historically, particularly concerning its homes. Not long ago, every pair of eyes that entered was scrutinised and given our blessing. For those of us that have grown up with the Internet, this is no longer the case. My bedroom, for example, has a computer that's on for hours a day, always throwing in emails, news reports, blogs and all the rest from every corner of the world. For most of our generation, the idea of getting the world out of our house would be strange. The research argued, however, that we are actually extremely private, but just act on the urge in a different way. It turns out that we're extremely selective about what we upload, for example. Yet I do think there's a problem. The real concern with the Internet is its permanence: once a photo or an article is up, it's safe to assume that it will be up - somewhere - for as many years to come as might matter. We're protected at the moment by the flood of information that makes things hard to manage, but the possibility that in five years time many people could be efficiently sifting through what's now our present is a great concern. Because we're human, it's almost impossible to grasp the size of risks until we've some kind of benchmark, and because of this very few of us really KNOW what it's like to have your forgotten Facebook past dredged back to haunt you. The number of people who have been burned so far is relatively small, but will hardly be static. I really do think there will be a backlash, at some point; I don't know when. It's actually always struck me as a great business opportunity to be there, immediately, when the wave breaks, offering people a 'privacy management' service that would save them from themselves.