While I understand why the issue of privacy on the internet is so important, I come from a generation that is willing to give up, or rather, have changed where my privacy priorities lie as so to traverse the internet better.
I for instance will not give my opinion as to my working conditions, or financial details and other professional matters of interest to the public. I will also not disclose more personal details between my partner and I, nor will I discuss matters pertaining to my family.
I will however, talk about my own self, how I am bipolar, my interests, dreams, aspirations, desires and to some extent and circles, my sexuality (which among Asian cultures is considered a taboo subject to approach). I understand what I am willing to share to people and the consequences that it may bring. I also have experience enough to know just how to talk about my own life to other people on the internet, making sure that my public personal life doesn’t come back to bite me in the future.
More often than not, sharing my strengths and more importantly, my flaws, I’ve come to meet people who too have the same afflictions as I do. Their experienced has taught me to managed my condition in the more difficult times and as such I have taken to try and help them center themselves as well. It doesn’t always work, but only because most people do not put stock in how real an online conversation can be in relation to actually meeting someone in person. A separate but not all too different issue from privacy altogether.
On the other hand, my partner views privacy in a German-like stance. That she needs to have a choice whereby she can never be tracked and she takes all steps to have a large wall between her private life and the internet. It took her years to start on Facebook and even so, she uses a pseudonym. She’s nowhere near hypocritical in real life either considering she takes the same near paranoid steps to remain out of the lime-light in real life. That’s why I’m writing only about her views on this, and not about anything that people can relate to her as a person.
The internet I believe needs to find a compromise between people such as my partner and people like myself. It is impossible and naive to believe that the internet can run properly without taking certain liberties to what we used to consider private information. Our public parts as +Jeff Jarvis puts it, ares now the clothes we wear as we take a stroll down the reality we call the internet. It is the identity we show to world as so we can communicate on the same level that body language does in a physical presence.
So rather than saying we should enforce an ability to not track us while we’re online, we should hold accountable companies that require certain information about us to not misuse that information. The use of our information should be transparent to the public and steps should be taken to ensure the public can trust companies with their information.
At the same time, what the public needs to realise is that for as long as you are on the internet, nothing is really private. Like my decision to talk about my private life in public spaces, people have to be consciously aware of the consequences they might run into should they decide to just be on the internet, much like people should be consciously aware of their surroundings if they are crossing the road or waiting alone at bus stop.
This kind of common sense or street smarts towards the internet is not something that people can willingly adopt overnight, but nevertheless, if the internet is going to part of our culture and life, then we have no choice but to develop this kind of street smarts. No amount of opt-out choices or do-not-track enforcement is going to change how much the internet and our digitized representation of ourselves will matter now and the future.
This post was originally written in Google+ in response to another post I read written by Jeff Jarvis. It should also be noted that while I’m just another schmuck on the internet with another opinion on how things should be made better, Jeff Jarvis is actually a respected professor in all things pertaining to journalism and new media.