Here in the UK we have an article of law called the ‘Human Rights Act (1998)’. If you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of this law then under article 8 of this act it is said that all people have ‘the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence.’
I always liked this article, as a relatively private person it is good to know that this is a right that I have as a human being. The problem is, do any of us have a true private life, when nowadays we are all connected to each other thanks to social networking.
It sounds a bit of a leap, but think about it, and you might just see what I mean.
Are you one of these people who goes on Twitter to tell its millions of users that you are making yourself a sandwich? Do you like falling down drunk on a night out and having the pictures all over facebook to laugh at when the hangover wears off? Unless you have been living in a cave for the past decade, then you will have noticed that social networking websites have pretty much taken over the lives of anyone who is registered with them. The addictive fads can differ from site to site, meaning that each of them has their own addictive qualities. From picture browsing and friend collecting on Facebook, to broadcasting your thoughts in Twitter, or even the bloggers that have slowly taken over every Starbucks, it’s impossible not to be a member of at least one social network site. These sites then go further, by connecting us all in a very visual way, for example, friends lists on facebook and feeds from Twitter from your favourite members of the Twitterati.
So surely something which makes so many people happy has to be good…. doesn’t it?
I won’t deny there is a lot of good in using these websites, otherwise no one would use them at all. My only major gripe is that what can be a great tool for keeping in touch with people, can also be abused and people could potentially realise that they don’t have any privacy.
I remember when facebook first came out, I had no idea what I was doing, and back then I only knew a half dozen people who even used it. I made a profile and put up a picture or two, mostly just me and maybe an odd snap from a slightly messy night out with my friends, and one from when I went to the beach, so naturally shirtless. Sounds innocent to me, and I am sure it does to you. Then I had a friend invite from my sister, and I realised quickly that I probably should not have accepted it. I confirmed her, and barely an hour later I had a very angry conversation with my mother who had been told by my sister what I get up to on a night out, and who screamed at me for my beach picture saying I was ‘practically naked’.
You are probably thinking I should have been a bit more clever, and not accepted the invite. But the story I just described is just one of many I have, and I am sure there are people out there who have many more. Needless to say if information is food for the mind, then social networks are practically an open buffet, and at any one time you are effectively opening yourself up to hundreds of people who you don’t even know. You can’t tell me that’s a 100% brilliant idea!
The truth hit me when I was applying for a job over a year later. I was told by one of my closest friends to make sure I have my facebook specially locked against people who aren’t already my friends, because when his company has considered hiring people they have actually gone so far as to look them up to decide if they like the look of them or not.
Is it just me or does that seem so very, very wrong?
The crux of what I want to know is this, is my private life really private anymore when I am on Facebook and Twitter, and for that matter can anyone have any real privacy? I look back on my life and imagine how it would be if I wasn’t as private as I am, if every mistake I made, or regret I have, every first love, or devastating heartbreak became nothing more than gossip for other people. How would I like to be judged for every bad decision, or awful first impression I have ever made?
So, is it possible to live a life in public view and still keep a little of it back, or do you have to make a decision between being a social networker, or a private person?
This is Jason, saying goodnight and good luck with your private moments.
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