How much have social networks changed our notion of privacy? What are the implications of broadcasting our lives online? It is good or bad
I think it’s undeniable that privacy as we know it has changed. We can easily check our friends online to figure out where they are, who are they dating, what they ate yesterday…. For the “older” generation like myself who didn’t grow up in this environment, this is a change. Honestly, I am still a bit concerned about exposing myself online, though my feeling about it is changing by the day.
The story, however, is different for the generation growing up on Facebook. They are not afraid to share their lives online. They want to send a signal to the world that they are alive. They are staging their own “reality” TV show that just happens to be online. This is why I call them the naked generation. They are living in a transparent age where the lines between public and private are blurring. I don’t know if social networks are the cause, but they are likely to continue to accelerate this trend.
Now, is being digitally “naked” is good or bad? While I understand the concerns around broadcasting our lives, I actually think that it is good. I think transparency make us more human. We are more likely to care about others. Transparency also comes with a sense of social responsibility. To be part of the network, we need to respect the trusted environment. We don’t want to do something to others that we don’t want to be done to us. And, we are more likely to self-police the network to make sure that no one violates this trust.
We can also look it from an economic perspective. Transparency eliminates the problem of asymmetric or hidden information. Relationships carry a value in our society. They help us get jobs, exchange ideas, get dates… Transparency allows for differentiation of good connections from bad ones. As a result, we are more open to forming new connections with “strangers” who have a robust public profile. These days, we even have apps that facilitate profiling of potential dates.
In summary, today’s web continues to have a democratizing influence on our society. Initially, the web played a role in democratizing information. Today is about democratizing relationships. In other words, individuals are more likely to have access to people who previously would have been outside of their social spheres.