On the subject of how privacy and our digital-selves can share the same bed, I propose – yet again – that privacy is not something you harness in blind self-interest, but rather that it is something you give away. If you’re anywhere above pond-scum, you give it away freely.
Let me explain:
In the big wide world we have come to accept all kinds of behaviours as default positions in most, if not specifically western, societies. When you approach someone with a question, you have to accept that they may or may not answer you or that their answer may or may not be truthful. You have no control over those variables, beyond appealing to good social mores. Sure, you could ask nicely… and you could use good judgement in deciding whether or not to believe what you hear. However, they could walk away, tell you to get-bent, lie their asses off or just answer and they are well within their rights with all of that. Anything you do to try and force the issue… is you doing something wrong, not them.
If you pick up someone else’s notebook (family, friend, or stranger) and there on the cover is a label that informs you of the owners name and that you are not welcome to read it… you don’t get to say “Hey, they left it here so I can read it if I want.” I mean, you can… but it’s you that is doing something wrong, not them. Of course, this gets even more cut-and-dry if you walk into someone’s house – invited or not – and see the same notebook. Right?
What makes anyone think that a blog or other sort of digital media is excluded from those social mores on privacy?
It’s up to the individual to decide if they use their proper names or other identifying elements when they leave digital footprints. It’s also up to the individual to properly label their work… (aka: label on the notebook). That being said, if there’s a notice at the top of a blog that says “this is private stuff” and your employer, or a prospective employer, decides to read it, then they have done something wrong – and they should be called on it!! The oft heard lament “Hey, you put it out there for all to see…” is weak at best and more reasonably, the pathetic gasping of a guilty douche bag.
The answer to digital privacy in social media cannot be that we employ and unending cascade of digital locks, filters, and passwords. All can be broken, fail or otherwise become the suckage. The notion of privacy-via-a-password is an old rule… it no longer applies and we have to stop using it as an excuse for invading someone else’s privacy. I am well aware of the truth that lurks behind “If you don’t want anyone to know it… don’t say it.” But that’s the douche bag thing again. This isn’t about what people say on their facebook pages or on their blogs. It’s about the decision to read someone else’s. Making this argument does not imply that we do not have to take responsibility for what we say and do. It’s just that it’s not good enough to ignore the whole social-responsibility part of the larger issue.
We have to give people their privacy… not shame them into hiding behind walls.