Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Everybody is Big Brother

You're the biggest threat to your privacy.   By using social media sites to constantly inform peers of your interests, beliefs, locations, opinions, and life details, it means almost anyone can watch you like Big Brother,  the all seeing and all knowing fictional dictator from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four

In fact it's downright scary how similar social media has made modern society to Orwell's vision of it.   Individuals suffer real world consequences for actions or content posted on sites such as Facebook and Twitter because unknown to them, authorities are surreptitiously monitoring them.    

I guess Sandra Bullock's awful 1995 film "The Net" tried to warn us that people's privacy would be invaded by their internet activities, but I never could get passed how unrealistically easy it was for Bullock to order a pizza online.  It's still not that easy, efficient, or common place as it was portrayed in the movie.

And she was using a dial up modem to boot.  It would have taken at least half the night for her connection to even go through so she could order and another half of the night for the pizza place to actually receive it.

Giving away our right to privacy is always major concern, yet millions of people are doing it.  Why?  Well, there are several reasons.  The primary one being that social media has convinced us that we're all important and people need to know about our lives.  Apparently that's all Big Brother had to do to trick us into divulging this once guarded information.

You're not compromising your privacy on Facebook or Twitter,  you're informing and entertaining people with details of your life.  We're almost all guilty of this as being part of social media networks appears to be a requirement these days.  A person not participating in one is as rare as someone who still uses a beeper.

But think of all this in a different context for a moment.  If someone you barely knew came up to you on the street and started reciting all the information that you've posted, you'd probably be pretty freaked out about how much the person knows about you.  In fact, he or she would seem like some sort of crazy stalker instead of someone that casually checks the updates on their social media networks.

Also, I'm convinced people and especially teenagers are getting stupider.  Seriously, I don't understand how kids can still be getting abducted over the internet.  It's not like this is still the mid 90s where we assumed everybody on internet was safe and then all proceeded to use sketchy America Online chat rooms full of predators.

Not to mention, teenagers seem to like posting photographic or video evidence of themselves committing crimes.  That's a good idea if the next video you want to star in is prison security footage of inmates doing unpleasant things to you.  Kind of like what happens to the monopoly man in prison.

With the emergence of Foursquare, a location-based social networking website for mobile platforms, things could be getting worse.  It makes a game out of declaring your location in real time, which is fun until your apartment gets robbed because you just had to let everybody know that you were out eating frozen yogurt.

Of course, this doesn't mean that all social media networks are evil, no one should use them.  Actually, I'm as addicted to using Facebook as anybody else.  It's just very ironic that people complaining about the Big Brother mentality of government or society violating their privacy are the same ones carelessly providing intimate details to random people through social media.


  1. Well done, sir. I was grappling with similar questions myself today.

    Also that Net preview makes me feel like an old man. Not as old as Dennis Miller though, so that's one consolation.

  2. That preview makes the internet seem so scary, but then you remember they're still using discs and laugh for five minutes.