A few days ago, a group of us were talking about online privacy attitudes among the younger generation, and we realized that their privacy concerns — or lack thereof, to judge from their behavior — were a mystery to us.
So, I decided to ask a young friend of mine, a playwright named Ella Hickson. She’s bright and articulate, and is a keen observer of her own generation. What she wrote back was quite interesting:
“The older I get the more I value privacy. I have in the last year upped all my security settings both on social networks and bank sites, etc.
I think there are two-tiers of thinking – we are less inclined to be private with those that are our friends — I have an inner circle of around 15 people who can see, read, and search anything they like on me. Then there is our ‘public’ self.
I think the kind of ‘all hanging out there’ that we see on social networking sites, etc., is more duplicitous than it seems. The things that we have total access to are, of course, highly controlled by those that are putting it there for the most part. Very rarely is anything being posted ‘about’ someone that they aren’t posting themselves.
Thus, the ‘public’ face of what you see is exactly that, a face, an aspect, a carefully controlled and constructed persona that the person in question has constructed. This doesn’t need privacy because the whole point of this persona is that it is seen.
What you and your company are doing, however, is protecting our ‘real’ selves — our at-home-in-pajamas-selves, our ‘person,’ not our ‘persona.’ No one wants security for their persona — they want it on billboards. But they do want security for their person — so they can go and cruise other people’s personas without being seen.”