Privacy In An Online World

Privacy In An Online World

As of late I have been doing a lot of thinking about privacy. The topic has come up with friends several times recently and it’s been on the top of mind. When I started this blog I knew it would bring more transparency to my life than either Myspace or Facebook had. I started out as a small time Tweeter but now I have over a thousand followers and am climbing close to the 10,000 mark on blog views. And slowly, over the years, my threshold for privacy has decreased. I still look to Facebook as a private place where I am only Friends with my actual friends. I don’t accept Facebook friend requests from strangers or blog readers (sorry guys) because that is the last bastion of privacy for me. That is a place to share pictures and stories and frustrations that I don’t want the general world to know about… but even so, I remind myself that once it is on the internet I no longer have control over it.

Increasingly in my life I try to live by a simple mantra… If I don’t want my parents to read about it in the newspaper, don’t do it. Otherwise, I own my behavior. I think another reason I keep my Facebook private is that I have earned the mark of true internet celebrity in that I have received many unwanted messages from people, messages that could make a girl nervous. But again, all was expected when putting my life online.

I know I could never be a politician and people may use the behavior they see online to try to hurt me but, like I said, I own it. It is no secret that I enjoy hanging out with my friends or an adult beverage.

But there is another factor here. The onus of responsibility for MY online privacy is not in the hands of others, rather it is my own job to ensure the image I wish to project is projected. Being in the media industry and the social media industry specifically, I know that there is always someone with a camera or a phone nearby. Another good case for reputation and brand management online (i.e. check twitter…)!

But what I find so fascinating is how integral the online world is for me daily. I don’t show people photo albums anymore… I direct them to my Facebook page or Flickr feed. When asked by a friend to take down some pictures from Facebook, I was confused… well, where are you going to look at them if I take them off?

While I am the first to extol the internet’s joys and value, I realize that we have lost something when it comes to memories. To rely on jpgs and png files to hold our memories is flawed. And he was right. Not every picture is for sharing online, not even in my contorted system of privacy levels. Sometimes, it is better to keep thing private and share them another way.

Just as my stalker incidents had me rethinking location based services, this has be rethinking how I store memories. I mean, as a photographer with over 3000 images on my Flickr stream alone (those aren’t all of what I have on my photo external harddrive), it is hard to imagine having time to sit and go through all of them, much less printing and photo albuming them… but there has to be a way…

Food for thought.