“What I do in the privacy of my home is my own business!”

Well, not anymore buddy. The 90s got over a long time back.

I have accounts on Facebook and Twitter, I have three private blogs and I don’t shy from posting pictures and ideas and letting people comment on them. Needless to say, I don’t wake up in the morning and worry about weirdos encroaching on my private life. But then, I also have the necessary privacy settings in place that allows me to choose what I want to share and with whom.

Let’s face it, the Internet has done wonders to bring people together but at the pace it is progressing (?), we’ll soon be breathing out in each other’s faces. There was a time when getting hold of somebody’s phone number and address was like solving a cryptic crossword puzzle. Today, you can not only get that with the right Internet searches but, also find what they did last weekend, their favorite pet and what they think of their Uncle Teddy’s secret steak sauce.

I recently saw an episode of the TV series House MD where a certain character has a habit of blogging about her life and makes decisions based on the feedback she receives. Although I thought the concept was a bit hyperbolized, I have crossed paths with blogs where individuals have written about their most private feelings and events and random people have commented on it and nursed with unwanted advice. The same goes on with Facebook and Twitter where people update and tweet like their life is a primetime soap opera. This would still be under the limits of comfort if the viewers of these minute-by-minute updates were just close friends and family but, we have become so uninhibited that we make “friends” with the most random, unknown people from all over the world. The terms “friends” and “buddies” are so loosely used that they have begun to lose their real meaning in our minds.

Twitter has a feature where you can see (literally) which part of the world the tweet was written. Youtube is splattered with young parents posting videos of their kids for the world to watch, comment and favorite. If that was not enough, then Geotagging has done its part to cover up the lacking distance between benignly private and blatantly public. Sure there are privacy settings but, how many people know about them or even make the effort to use them. Some would say that in such a case it is their fault and I wouldn’t disagree but, what about people posting pictures and information of others without the right privacy settings? I get hyperlinked names of so many strangers on my Facebook feed that I suspect that the entire world is on Facebook. How difficult is it to click on one of these names and follow their cyber trails?

All this is not a bad thing entirely. I have made connections with long lost friends (real ones), learnt about some cool information and even established contacts with interesting people for non-socializing reasons. In the end it is not so much the technology that is at fault but, the distance (or the lack of it) that a user’s creativity can travel.

Talking about the users, I have begun to sense that today’s average Internet/social media user has a broader definition of privacy and feels less discomfort about adding a seemingly unknown person to witness, what has come to be, the online version of their life. Let’s be honest, nobody has 1000+ real friends in their lives. That is just taking it too far.

I suppose it all depends upon how you intend to use what has been made accessible to you. I know people who think social media is a sign of the apocalypse and I know people who can’t live without tweeting about how strange their morning coffee is tasting to them. As for me, I am not so hung up on stalkers and privacy but in the same breath, I am not exactly gung-ho about providing a full video documentary of all my crazy exploits either (wouldn’t you like to know!).

“Your lives are open wide, The V-chips gives them sight

All the life running through her hair”

–    System of a Down (Spiders)