The Worms Are Out of the Can…
The college-originated social network sites gave users the impression that they could express themselves in an unvarnished, free-to-be-me manner — in a world of their own, a completely private setting.
The Internet is the most public of arenas. Even if you think you control your own content, guess what? There are so many ways it can leak out to others.
And now that so many ”grown ups” have evolved to Facebook and others for business purposes, it begs an interesting question.
What is public and what is private in our lives?
The truth is: it’s all a blur. One messy category in a spew of on-line, often unfettered self-expression and easily available data. It is a very gray area and, unfortunately, one that invites judgment by a very broad audience — including those who have a say in obtaining things you want. A new job. Career advancement. A romantic relationship. Acceptance into college, a club or grad school. Hmmm.
In the old days of hierarchical media, you could create a persona different than your real true self. Regular people didn’t have ready access to reporters and editors. Companies and politicians hired PR people to market their images and manage their messages.
FDR was in a wheel chair and it was kept from the American people. It would be impossible to draw that line in the era of Internet, search engines, cell phone and security cameras. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps discovered the harsh reality at a private social gathering that quickly became public.
Today, everyone is in charge of their own reputation management. And who is providing advice or the skill set to assure the desired outcome? Or to avoid embarrassment, disaster or career derailment? What’s OK? What’s not OK?
In essence, we are all living public lives. On the record, all the time.
Is your son or daughter equipped to navigate these new waters? Are you?
Even if you say you don’t participate, your content is out there: your house on Zillow.com and various real estate/taxation records; your political contributions on Huffington Post; maybe a photo of you taken at a pool party, pre-diet (!) on someone’s Facebook page.
Maximum freedom of expression + Maximum audience for judgment = More freedom? Or less freedom, since there is less privacy?
Do you love the fishbowl? Hate it? Tolerate it? Use it to your advantage? Need some guidance?
June 23, 2009