Hey want to be friends? Cool, how old are you? Where do you live? Are you in a relationship? What kind of people do you hang out with? What’s your family like?
If someone you just met asked a bunch of invasive questions like this, would it bother you? If you regularly use social media, then they shouldn’t because chances are you have already broadcast this information to random people on the Internet.
For the last decade or so people, particularly Americans, have been defined by their online presence, or their lack of one. Tell someone you don’t have a Facebook and chances are the response will be along the lines of, “Oh my God why not?!? How do you live??!”
When meeting someone new or getting assigned a new roommate, most people will inevitably try to learn more about, and subsequently judge, that person, through the information available on their Facebook and what is available on Google.
I find that disturbing, but I’m not here to champion the cause of privacy because let’s be honest, that has been dead for decades. Shout out to J. Edgar Hoover, the Patriot Act and sleazy tabloid reporters everywhere.
No, what irks me is how comfortable the average person has become with disclosing personal information via the Internet. I take issue not with the death of privacy but the perversion of it. Yes, there are privacy options but they are the exception, not the standard.
For most, social media serves as a platform for chatting online, exchanging random thoughts in tweets or sharing pictures. It’s a harmless time waster and nothing more.
There have also been several documented cases of not so harmless scenarios where users were harassed to the point of committing suicide. Not to mention the rising trend of online companies using targeted advertising.
Take a Facebook wall or a Google account. Companies use search terms and key words from conversations and emails to spam you with ads. Just yesterday I emailed a golf coach and as soon as I refreshed my inbox the page was full of golf-related ads.
Not taking into account how creepy it is that someone or something is monitoring my personal conversations, it is also incredibly intrusive. I hope the day is rapidly approaching where society starts holding tech giants and social media platforms accountable for the absurd amount of data mining they do in our personal lives.
It’s aggravating listening to people talk about status updates, brag about how many followers they have on Twitter or recap how many points they have accumulated on Foursquare. I’d love to see social media fade out, but since the world has grown so reliant on electronic relationships, that will likely never happen.
At the very least it would be nice to not have to worry about soul-less corporations perusing my inbox or reading my chat logs.
While it is perfectly reasonable to red-flag a sentence where the words bomb and president are present, it is inexcusible to sell people’s personal lives for ad revenue.