Have you had an embarrassing or worrying moment with communication technologies? Are you concerned about online privacy? If you answered yes, then you may be happy to know that you are not alone, the number of people concerned about online privacy is increasing. Of course, this is not the exclusive realm of the wired world, many people are familiar with the dreaded 2AM drunken phone call either as senders or recipients, and there probably were some mistimed telegraphs during the technology’s nadir. However, there cannot be any doubt that the chance of privacy malfunctions increases as we put more of our life online.
The question has to be whether those who choose to make some of their personal details public through Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter or MySpace should have less expectations with regards to privacy and personal data than those who choose digital obscurity and anonymity. To join the social media tribe is still entirely dependent on making a personal decision to make public aspects of one’s life. Furthermore, the level of involvement is a matter of personal choice as it is entirely possible to assume a pseudonym or a digital persona to conduct one’s online interaction in a more open and carefree manner. Those of us who have decided to have a very public social media presence may lack the freedom enjoyed by the anonymous crowd, but as a trade-off benefit from other perks such as a level of recognition and accountability.
Nonetheless, the level of personal scrutiny to those publicly engaged in online communities is a matter of concern to people like yours truly. Having publicly quit Facebook, I have been aware that my online persona both in this blog and Twitter is my main presentation card. Even though I try to be “light-hearted and nonchalant”, will people understand that the online persona is separate from the real person? If I do not take myself too seriously, will anyone else?
Still, I get a lot of enjoyment from my online presence, but I am constantly mindful of the fact that I walk a thin line. Using Judith Rauhofer’s excellent Twilight analogy, I have joined the wolf pack, a collective mind that shares its feelings and thoughts (if I get the analogy correctly). If I dislike how the wolf pack behaves, the solution is one silver bullet away.
Update: This is completely a coincidence, but I wrote this before I knew that Stephen Fry is quitting Twitter. The pack has lost one of the alpha wolves.
Update 2: Well, Fry is not quitting Twitter after all. The incident was a disagreement blown out of proportion. Hmm… not surprised by this, the technology seems to lend itself to misunderstanding. More than wolf packs, I am reminded of zombie mobs mumbling “brainsss”.