Privacy is not something that is high on my online ‘concern’ list. Let’s be honest, I’m lucky to live a fairly ordinary life: I’m not a celebrity, nor do I do much that is of interest to a wider audience. Therefore, who is truly paying attention to little old me??
But in considering whether it is possible to control what is public vs private, I came across a pretty confronting quote from Computer Science Professor, Margo Seltzer: “Privacy as we knew it in the past is no longer feasible. How we conventionally think of privacy is dead.” She continues on to add that we are being tracked all the time through technology: credit cards, debit card, the web, roads, highway transceivers, email, social networks, etc. This amounts to a pretty substantial digital trail.
Daniel Newman from Forbes magazine adds on that “our privacy died when we grew obsessed with free”. I had never thought about it like this. People like starting a blog for free, or joining facebook for free. We want free content, free social media and to be connected with others for free. So what is the trade off? Our privacy.
Whether we like it or not, we need to accept that just about everything that we do has the potential to be public. Whether it is images of us drinking at a party or pictures of us in bikinis on holidays. And these photos do have the potential of making it back onto the screens of our students.
This goes to question: If something happens in your private life, which doesn’t affect or influence your role as a professional and the way you carry out your professional responsibilities, does it really matter?
Unfortunately, yes, as numerous celebrities and politicians have shown in the media in the past. There’s the example of Michael Phelps smoking marijuana. One minute he is an American hero and the next a ‘criminal’. Or Prince Harry , a few years back, who was caught on camera partying naked in Las Vegas. After all of his positive charity work, this image led the public to question the rich and famous lives that royals lead. Finally, a recent example from Canada, where a Canadian politician running for parliament in the recent election made an off-side Auschewitz death camp joke on Facebook five years ago, which then resurfaced and came back to mar her election campaign.
Bringing this idea back to little old me, since we want to curate a positive digital footprint, we must be aware of our actions everyday and the potential for future consequences. It’s not like I’m posting slander comments on Facebook, or making scandalous videos, but I do try to have a positive presence both online and in ‘real’ life.
I feel that I am the one who is in charge of my online content. While I can’t always control what is posted about me or who has access to it, I CAN control my actions everyday and it IS important to live a life that I wouldn’t mind others seeing online.
Privacy is pretty much non-existent in today’s world, so why not simply live a life that you would be proud to share online?