In my short time as a certified adult, I’ve noticed one peculiar trait of the generational divide. Many adults are extremely concerned about privacy, sometimes to a degree I think is a little crazy. I once heard someone say you shouldn’t put your actual home address as your home in a car GPS. If your car gets stolen, the thief will not only know you’re not home, but will know where your empty house is located. I suppose that’s a concern, but how likely is your car to get stolen in the first place? Then, how likely is the thief to be interested in anything besides selling the parts of your car? Sure, the risk isn’t 0, but certainly it’s not high enough to make our own lives difficult. I think what people don’t understand is that we blindly accept many intrusions or risks of intrusions to our privacy.
Cars still come to mind, this time for their license plates. It’s your car, your property that you paid for. Yet, you still have to go to a government office and assign that vehicle a number. You have to go through training and be assigned a license to prove you have the right to use the property you own. When we were all born, we were assigned an identification number so we could be tracked by the government.
No one bats an eye., but Facebook comes out with a messenger app that requests the same kind of personal information that nearly every other app request and the world blows up.
There are some reasons to be concerned. It seems like every day I hear a new story about a company getting hacked (why is no one talking about this?? How they hell does this happen with such frequency). As I sit here writing, the morning news told me Dairy Queen is the next business to be hit. That is some scary stuff no doubt. That said, it doesn’t make me want to jump to cash or my checkbook. Most credit cards have a system in place for you to report fraudulent charges. I once had such a charge and my credit card removed said charge before they even started their investigation. The long story short is, all these hacks don’t make me fear for myself. I pay hyper attention to my account to make sure any bad charges are removed immediately.
Maybe I’m less concerned because I grew up used to social media. I share my random thoughts on this blog and throughout Twitter and Facebook. Clearly I am just used to sharing this stuff. I think it’s more than that, though. I have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.
I’m not sure if this is a generation thing or a TK thing, but I hate hiding who I am. I did that through much of my childhood, afraid of disappointing my parents, friends or teachers with little more than my opinions and plan for life. As it was, my father had a minor freak out when I choose my college major and a… not so little… freak out when I decided to study abroad. Were the tears I cried after telling my father I would be taking out a larger student loan so I could study abroad the next semester worth it? Was hearing him tell me how stupid, ignorant and foolish I was over and over again during our phone conversation worth it? The answer is an unequivocal yes. I’m not here to pretend anything. I am who I am, I do what I do and I’m not about to hide.
What does this have to do with privacy? So many of our concerns are related to our personal lives. Where we work, what gym we belong to, where we bank and what we have done in our lives. For example, on this blog I don’t use my real name and I don’t provide the name of the place I work. I don’t even talk about my title at work. This is important, not because I’m ashamed or hiding, but for the preservation of my job and those in my life. I’ve had a stalker before and, while I love you all, I’d prefer to avoid stalkers in the future. That’s really about it. Close friends and family are welcome to that information. I have no problem telling a stranger in the coffee shop where I work. Hell, if someone asked me if I had sex before, I’d probably respond with, “Yes. Why?” I mean, it’s just a fact, nothing to be ashamed of.
The difference between putting my name on my blog and telling my name to a stranger is that I am in control off the internet. I have the chance to look at said stranger and decide whether or not they are a person I want to give my name to. On the internet, I lose that control. When I get a credit card, I also lose that control. Even if I never use it, there is a bank full of people who know my credit card number. The government is full of people with access to my social security number. They’re just people and as susceptible to human fallibility as anyone else.
In reality, there is little more than my name and my occupation that is truly mine. i guess I’ve gotten so used to this world and I don’t mind. I like that my cellphone has GPS on it so my body can be easily found if I’m murdered or kidnapped (not that I’m betting on that happening). I like that I have access to friends old and new through Facebook. I certainly love buying things online. Privacy is important, but letting go provides so much luxury. It’s hard for me to have problem.
How concerned are you about your personal privacy? Have you considered going ‘off the grid’ to avoid intrusion into your privacy? What products to you avoid to maintain your privacy? If a stranger in a coffee shop asked if you had sex before, would you be likely to provide an answer?