What does privacy mean to you?
"In The Facebook Effect, a recent history of the social network, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg told author David Kirkpatrick that he envisions a society in which "you have one identity"—where "having a different image for your work friends or coworkers and for the other people you know" will no longer be possible or even desirable." [source]
As humans, we are involved in deep and complex relationships with many different people. I would never share the same things with a friend that I share with my wife. Nor would I share that information with my boss. Yet, the idea of a total transparent world is something that is not only desirable for the Facebook creator, but the ideal. Such an ideal, is to me, quite terrifying.
I can not help but wonder why a person would want to live in such a world. I have touched on the subject in previous posts of the virtue of privacy. Many people have died for the freedoms and privacy that people in our modern world now take for granted. Has the internet and the obsession with (a)social media made us forget the desirability of privacy?
Of course, Facebook is known to be an enemy of privacy. In fact, it's been the subject of multiple stories stating that it has been involved in breaches of privacy. Yet millions of people don't care. As long as they can share their lives and watch their contemporaries' lives, everything is okay, right? Many people don't even think about what they are giving up when they sign up for the quasi-"free" service known as Facebook. Instead, they think of it is merely as a tool to allow them to live a more social life.
Should a person want to share every aspect of their life with everyone? Are having secrets a bad thing? Should the world know who you slept with, where you are planning on retiring, who you are angry with? Should your spouse and co-worker both be aware of your financial life? Should you tell everything to everyone? No! Such an idea is, frankly, absurd. Yet, people subscribe to such an idea when they sign up to Facebook. I have touched before on the idea that Facebook is a business. People seem to forget this. You are sending a message that you agree with the ideals of the company, Facebook, Inc., even if, in reality, you do not support the idea of a world without privacy.
If Facebook was a or the government, people would be appalled at the site's lack respect for privacy. Yet, since it is a non-physical website, and not a government, that allows one to engage in behaviors such as creating envy (though making others jealous), bragging, comparing one's self to the perceived life of others, and acting like a fool in a public forum without abandon, many are glad to sign up and trade their ideals for it. Being non-tangible makes Facebook seem like less of a threat. But there are a host of psychological threats that come with using and living your life through Facebook. Do you really want your entire life to be transparent for the rest of the world to see? Do you value privacy at all? These are questions that many users don't consider but should.
If you are on the fence about using Facebook, now is a good time to try a stint without Facebook. You may be pleasantly surprised at how things turn out. If you think that there is something to lose by giving up Facebook, you should instead consider what you have to gain. Put the time you spend on Facebook towards reaching your own goals. You live the life you choose. Only you are responsible for your dreams. If you spend your time hooked up to (a)social networking, are you really accomplishing your dreams? Perhaps, but that is for you to think about. After all, it is your life.