July 6, 2014

Live to Post AND Post to Live?

July 06, 2014 Posted by Vijay No comments
Today we live in a world where privacy is all about status updates. The private life one lives is available not only for your friends or relatives, but for the general public. Be it delivery of a child, or a muffin you eat - half way in your mouth; they deserve to be posted on social platforms. It is not just a private moment. It is a social tool for others to see who you are. Your true self. Yet, when it comes to privacy protection, everyone is up in arms. Facebook should not mess with emotions, apps should not access your contacts or call logs. But is there anything left called as privacy anymore? I guess not.

The internet and now mobile explosion has blurred the line between private and public life. As much as I want to follow technology, a complete invasion of private space is a total no-no. Yes, the argument goes that you can stay in touch with friends of yore, relatives unknown and colleagues who matter. But surely, you don't want to know how your friend eats, or how a new born looks. Why not send a mail to those who really matter, or call up. But no, if you don't have facebook or whatsapp you don't deserve to be in the know-how. Oh, did I just reveal my discomfort at this Facebook life we live in? Probably yes, but it also matters what we share. Or do we intend to share because we want to force others to feel us as important?

As a marketing tool, yes it is terrific. But if we share everything in public, what is left in private life? Or is there even time left for a private life? It is almost as if we go to a resort, or a hotel because we want to post it on the social network. Not because we want to spend quality time with family or friends. For me it is almost spamming to see so many posts that have no significance whatsoever to me or my life. Yet, there is no escape from this vicious circle of internet life.

Our lives are so intertwined with the internet world, that just having an email address and making some Google searches is enough to leave a footprint of the person that you are. Google and now facebook have zillions of data to reel through. And big data is just beginning to sift through these and make predictions about user behavior, shopping patterns, travel options and of course targeted ads. Think data brokers, whose job is to interpret our online data usage and sell it to firms for targeted ads and marketing. Forget Facebook, our personal identity is only as private as an organization NSA wishes it to be so. And the smartphone usage explosion has ensured that our lives are anything but private. 

Imagine the number of apps and data being churned out of our personal mobile numbers via whatsapp or Facebook or any other app for that matter.They stealthily make you accept permissions when installing them and quietly read your contacts, even call logs. And most of these so called must have apps (including Gmail or Yahoo mail) don't leave users much of a choice. And just add location access to the mix, and bingo - you have internet stalking you (literally), knows who you talk to, can still potentially read your mails (though they are supposedly encrypted after NSA antics). 

To sum it up, we live a life where our private life is utterly compromised. And most active social web users are willing to do so, and many more act as if ignorance is bliss. We risk ourselves to snooping agents innocently. And when we hear of appeals like the right to forget ruling by the EU on Google, it is very contradicting indeed. And when smartphones become ubiquitous, especially to those who are unaware of the way the internet works, the data churn at Google or Facebook just grows manifold. 

As much as these technological tools are vital for users to stay in touch, it also begs the question - Do we live for ourselves or for the internet? It is all well to say there should be stricter user privacy protection, but if we as users allow to be public about our private life (mostly knowing the mobile apps can and will read data from our phones or mails) of what use are these regulations? Of course we hear of Facebook fatigue etc. but by now the data stored with these corporations is so humongous, there is no escaping from future targeting. Our internet avtar is already out there with data brokers(even if we choose not to have one). Unlike the phrase which says 'one should eat to live and not live to eat', are we leaning toward : Living to Post AND Posting to Live?