Day 173. That’s Personal

I was part of a discussion on LinkedIn the other day.  Before I tell you about it, let me explain what LinkedIn is, for those who aren’t familiar with it.  Essentially it’s pryinga professional social networking website.

When you sign up, you create a ‘profile’, not unlike a Facebook timeline.  But without all the personal info and photographs.  And, like with Facebook, one of the objectives is to get as many ‘contacts’ (friends) as you can.  Because through each of your contacts, you have an opportunity to network with their contacts.

One of the features it offers is the ability to visit these profiles anonymously.  Or not, it’s up to you.  You have the choice.

So last Thursday, I think it was, I was there.  On LinkedIn.  One of my contacts posted about her annoyance with people who check out her profile without revealing their identity.  They use the ‘anonymous’ feature.  She berated LinkedIn for having it.  And said it should no longer be available.

Her point being, privacy has no place on social media.

Well, I disagree.  Pretty strongly, actually.  And added my two cents to the comments already there.  All the other people agreed with her.  Which I have to say, I found very disturbing.  Nothing to do with my ego, by the way.

This, particular, incident isn’t really the issue.  It’s really just a symptom of something much bigger.  Much more of a concern.  Privacy in general.

What’s disturbing to me is, the sense of entitlement we now seem to have.  We think we have a right to know anything and everything about each other.  Anything and everything about celebrities, athletes, tycoons and even politicians.  We’ve become a society of voyeurs.  And when something, or someone, stands in our way we stamp our feet and pout.  We don’t like it.

Years ago, prying was the exclusive province of tabloids.  But now everyone’s in on the act.  Nothing’s sacred any more.  It’s open season.  And I’m sorry, but I don’t think we’re better for it.  I think we’re worse off.  And if all the newspapers and magazines and news, infotainment and entertainment shows aren’t bringing enough of the dirt to our doorsteps, mailboxes, inboxes and TV screens, the celebs, themselves, are baring all in their reality shows.

Call me crazy but I have no interest in watching Paris Hilton have sex.  I don’t care why Kim Kardashian and Chris what’s-his-name broke up, five minutes after they got married.  I’m not interested in listening in on their arguments.  I don’t want to know what goes on in the hot tub between the bachelor and his bimbos. And on and on it goes.

Somebody tell me why knowing whether or not Jodi Foster is a lesbian, is any of our business.  Tell me why Adele should be obliged to tell us her baby’s name.  Presidents (of the White House variety) have been having affairs for centuries.  Nobody knew.  And I’d wager to say, no one would EVER have dared ask.  Yet look what happened to Bill Clinton.  All we SHOULD have been concerned with, was whether or not he was a good President.  The rest is between him, his wife, his conscience and the women he slept with.

Women the world over should be grateful to Betty Ford for going public when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  As should all those who are victims of substance abuse.  Her courage has brought important issues out into the open, where they can help millions and millions of people; and also save millions and millions of lives.  But it was her CHOICE.  She CHOSE to share.

She wasn’t ‘outed’.  It wasn’t tweeted by someone who may not even have known her.  Or ‘leaked’ to a newspaper by someone who had no regard for her right to privacy.

But that was back in the good old days.  When we still had a moral compass to guide us.  Before we lost our civility.

Before we decided  the right to know took precedence over the right to keep it to ourselves.  If and when we so choose.

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34 thoughts on “Day 173. That’s Personal

  1. Bravo. I agree with you about getting rid of anonymous browsing on Facebook. I want to know who is looking at my info, whether it’s a friend, my company’s HR department, my boss or a recruiter. And should I choose, I’d like to reach out to them and see if they have questions.

    • Sorry. Actually, I don’t want to get rid of it. I think if someone wants you to know they’ve looked at your profile it’s up to them to tell you. And if they don’t, I assume they have a reason. More coffee 🙂

      But that’s fine. We’re allowed to disagree.

  2. Linkedin is a professional and biz networking and for me the contacts and interactions always had more integrity than on FB or twitter. The idea of viewing someone privately and anonymously is perfectly appropriate i.e. headhunters or for whatever reason. Someone being huffy about it makes them sound like a real idiot. Seriously Work with what you’ve got and within that decorum and put your energy somewhere else haha

    • It’s exactly the same for me. Yeah, and the reasons you give, are the more or less exactly what I said when I commented. To each his own, I suppose. It was the ‘huffiness’ and sense of entitlement that really got to me. And yeah. I wish everyone would spend as much time on their own lives as they seem to do on everyone else’s.

  3. Agreed. And here’s another thing about social media that people seem to forget: when you put something “out there”, you are making it public. You no longer control where it ends up, and you haave no right to know who’s looking at it. People who are appalled at perceived breaches of their “privacy” – on the internet – really ought to look up the meaning of the word “internet”.

    As to the voyeurism, I find it sad from a civility standpoint. But also, I hate what it’s done to television programming and arts. These are the worst, smallest kinds of drama. That a significant number of us find the pettyness of others intriguing makes me worry that no substantive art / journalism / writing will ever happen aagain.

  4. What a strong post Fransi, I agree with every line, pity this post can’t be published to even a much wider audience or perhaps it can? Banned the Red Tops from the house long time ago – just don’t understand the value people gain from spending hard earned cash on such papers.
    Off now to enjoy the innocence of our 5yr. olds birthday party.

    • Thank you! Have fun at the party! Yes, the innocence of 5yr. olds is a beautiful, wondrous thing. Enjoy it while it lasts.

  5. Great article Fransi. It didn’t “turn” me, but I enjoyed the attempt. I still think there is a price attached to fame, power, notoriety and public recognition. And that price is privacy. Social media seems no different. I believe that if privacy is what you desire, then don’t put yourself out there. Don’t wear two faces on the Internet. The moment I signed up for LinkedIn I was consciously aware of the hidden cost. But I also saw the greater benefit that “putting it all out there” delivered. I don’t use the anonymous feature because it goes against my principles and my reasons for being there in the first place. I’m networking you – and you’re networking me. Isn’t that why we signed up in the first place – and why would I feel the need to hide it?

    • For me it is about choice. You have the right to make your presence known. And someone else has the right not to. And LinkedIn makes that easy because they offer both options. I don’t spend even 5 minutes thinking, worrying or obsessing about any of the people who check out my profile anonymously. And it doesn’t stop me from using LinkedIn to its full advantage.

      I still network like crazy, meet people and get business out of it. Whether or bot I know who has read my profile.

      I don’t know why some people want to remain anonymous when they check my profile out. It’s their business, not mine. I simply don’t care.

      I get what I need out of LinkedIn and every other form of social media I use. And I use it as I see fit. I disclose what I I want to disclose; and how and where and when I choose to disclose it.

      And the day somebody decides to take that choice away from me, is the day I’ll disappear.

      Everyone got into a lather recently about that whole photography thing on Facebook, screaming “those are my pictures. They don’t belong to you. Blah blah blah”.

      Well, you can’t have it both ways. Either everything in social media is up for grabs and nothing, including the right to keep some information to yourself, is sacred … Or we respect the fact that what is revealed and made public is up to each individual.

      My intention isn’t to change your mind. You have the right to your own opinion. Be as open as you want about everything.

      But I am also entitled to mine. I, too, have the right to decide how open (or not) I am.

      And we are both entitled to think we’re right.

  6. i don’t want to look at any of those actors either or know what they are doing, unless they murder someone.then i will follow the case on tv…every single week linkedin sends me a lot of email telling me what i’m interested in and i am not even a member .. i click spam, but nothing happens . i never open them.

  7. I always respect those famous who keep their private lives to themselves. For instance Beyonce and Jay-Z; can’t get much more A list than that but they still manage to keep a lot of their lives between them. Or Meryl Streep. It is possible to keep to yourself. I sometimes think certain famous people – not all by a long shot – but some of them kind of ask for the attention somewhat. When they go out without underwear or do drugs within view of the paparazzi. I’m not saying it’s right, but on some occasions I think they do seek the attention.
    However I’m with you on privacy. I like to protect mine quite passionately, as I feel my life is for me and those whom I choose to share it with, not the world and his wife. And most of the time I’m not that interested in what goes on with the celebrities. Paris Hilton? I’m actually a bit depressed by how famous she is because of that blimmin’ sex tape. Sex tapes on the whole depress me. Even Gene Simmons has one. I mean, Gene Simmons?
    Damn.

  8. Fransi, I’m with you. Once you put yourself out on LinkedIn, why would you care who looks at it. There is nothing wrong with being anonymous. It’s a choice just like putting yourself out there is. I am not very active on LinkedIn so I am always stunned when I go there and find a large number of people viewed my outdated page. My curiosity lasts for about 5 seconds and I’m on to something else.

  9. I think that as long as people’s intentions are good, then it doesn’t matter if they choose to be private or public. My Facebook, which I hardly go on anymore, is set to be private from search engines. People can only find me if they have a mutual friend. However, even then, there are people who add me who I’d rather not connect with. I like to maintain a distance from those people, and I am glad I have the option to do so. All those people who complain about privacy are basically just shouting, “Hey! Everyone should know everyone! Let’s all be famous and know every single thing about each other, down to our deepest and darkest secrets!”

    I encourage others to be open, but I know that many people like to maintain privacy for various reasons, and I totally respect that. I had a friend who developed cancer a while ago, and she asked me to not tell anyone, so I respected that. However, one of her other friends was told the same thing, and yet she went out and told others. It became a huge deal, and then everyone in our community found out. My friend stressed out even more because people couldn’t learn how to keep their mouths shut and respect privacy. Everyday, someone she didn’t know would talk to her about it, when it was the last thing she wanted to talk about to a complete stranger. It’s okay to be open, but I think that anyone who disrespects others’ privacy is egocentric and paranoid. Lead by example, not by force.

  10. I can’t agree enough!

    Privacy does have it’s place on social media. It’s all up to the user how to use it. And for those who get all huffy about it need to stop and think twice.

  11. We have to create our own privacy and use these networks in a way that we are comfortable with. I think we are still finding out how to dwell in the (dis)comfort zone, my perception is that there is no privacy and so we must act accordingly – whatever that means to each of us.

    • “whatever that means to each of us” being the point. That’s what bugged me about the LinkedIn conversation I got involved in. The attitude that it is our God-given right to pry into other peoples’ lives. That their rights to privacy don’t exist. All people, famous or not. I can’t accept that.

  12. I’m with you on this one. I don’t want to know who’s looking over my social media because it would make me question their attention, and I don’t want other people knowing what I look at either. I nosey on other LinkedIn profiles sometimes to make sure I’m presenting my own in a professional way that has a chance of standing out or selling me well – I don’t “steal ideas”, but I do compare against the majority to make sure my profile isn’t lacking. I wouldn’t feel comfortable everybody knowing what interests me, which friends’ Facebook pages I frequent often and which I never glance at. How much trouble is that likely to cause?

    I prefer some elements of subtlety and the freedom to keep tabs on my friends without everyone tracking me. I can think of a million negative situations that could arise from my views being logged – like a friend who has complained to the void of Facebook. If I can’t think of a good way to respond/console/soothe etc, or if I simply just don’t agree with them, what will they think to know I’ve read it and not responded?

    Keep it as it is. As a society we’re obsessively nosey at the same time as being compulsively anxious enough without anything else to feed the fever. It’ll make more trouble than improvements

    • I completely agree, for all the same reasons. We ARE too nosy. Enough already. It’s not your damn business. Period. I wish people spent as much time on their own lives as they do on others. They’d be a lot better off.

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