So let’s start with something Rashida put out there last week:
We’ve all been talking about this and debating the issue of ‘privacy’ for the last week. Seeing nude photos of one of the biggest movie stars in the world right now does that to the news cycle and the water cooler conversations.
By definition, privacy is ‘freedom from unauthorized intrusion.’ But in the social media age, how are we really defining that? When every update of these apps we have on our phones tells you in (fairly) straightforward language, ‘You understand everything you say and every picture you post becomes the property of our public server correct?’ How are each of us as individuals drawing the line of where our private life really starts?’ All of us have a natural, healthy level of unease when we feel Big Brother is overstepping their boundaries. But what if we’re voluntarily letting them in? And now that we’re here, what if there’s an expected benefit from the ‘Too Much Information’ Era? Let me put this another way…
As most of you know, I’m a born and raised Kansas City kid. I’ve made a few St. Louis friends over the years, I’ve passed through St. Louis on road trips, I’ve done weddings and bachelor parties in St. Louis, I’ve been to Rams home games in St. Louis. Until a month ago? I had NEVER heard of Ferguson, Missouri. So how does this small town get onto (and more importantly) stay on the radar of the national media (and all of us)? You know how. For the purposes of this post, I don’t bring up Ferguson to call attention to the murder of a black kid (that no one’s been charged for), I bring it up for how the media was treated. In the ‘Too Much Information’ Age, we had reporters and cameramen being told by the powers that be, ‘Shut It Down or Be Arrested.’ Now I haven’t been in school for a very long time now, but there’s a word that comes to mind when the people in power get overzealous in trying to control the information that gets out and the narrative of the story: censorship.
Too Much Information. Or is it? The common thread I see in the two stories is many people looking around and asking ‘Do we really still have this many people around who are that racist and/or misogynistic? Or has the number, never really changed, but because we’re all so much more comfortable publicly expressing ourselves, we’re just more exposed to how people really feel?’ And if in the long run, we’re sincere about trying to break down any type of systematic racism or sexism or what have you (another debate altogether), is it really bad to know how people really feel?
If I had the answer to how our cultural definition of privacy is going to evolve in the next 5 years, I’d already be living in Zuckerburg’s neighborhood. When I was a kid, everyone established their own line of where ‘Stay Out of My Business’ started. Now, to various degrees, we’ve all pushed that line way back, and we’re still pushing it. We want to stay connected to our friends and family around the world. We want to buy anything we can imagine without ever leaving the house. And so on.
Maybe the ‘private’ line really does disappear altogether, except for the extreme circumstances. I’m not an old man yet, but I already know it won’t be my generation who makes the decision.
Brave New World we’re living in.