Feeling Anti-Social When It Comes To Online Privacy? (Part 1 of 2)
Feeling resistant to all of this online sharing that’s going on? Don’t understand why people are posting information for the masses to read on Twitter? Don’t see why your “status update” would be of any interest to 150 of your closest friends, old friends, lost-and-found friends, sort-of-friends, co-workers, ex-co-workers, clients, cousins and loosely-held business acquaintances on Facebook?
I hear ya.
Your sense of personal privacy is being tested. Your understanding of work-life boundaries is being challenged. And you would simply prefer to remain virtually underexposed. You would prefer the security and familiarity of “controlled,” offline socializing in the “real” world.
I’ve been there. So how did I get here?
The answer? One connection at a time.
With every connection I have made on any of the social platforms — and I mean “real” connections…the kind where a real dialogue happens and you find yourself typing your reply with a smile or even scheduling a coffee meetup to further the conversation — I have become more and more comfortable with all of this information that “belongs” to me being released. Out there. To the world. To whomever may find it interesting.
And despite what you may be thinking…it doesn’t feel like a waste of my time or theirs.
I’m writing about this because people keep asking me about this. Here’s the deal: It’s fine with me if people don’t read what I write and it’s fine with me if they do. Throughout all of this “exposure,” my respect for personal privacy remains fully in tact. Believe it or not, I’m actually a very private person. I’ve set my own personal boundaries in these online spaces that preserve my sense of privacy. I also take personal security and identity theft rather seriously, so I’m not blind to the perceived risks. (Standby for “Online Privacy: Part 2 of 2.”) But, at the end of the day, what I’ve learned from social media is that the group exposure you allow yourself to engage in leads to one-on-one connections (nurtured old ones, interesting new ones) that are as tangible to me online as they would be if I were chatting with or introducing myself to you at a party or professional gathering. The risks can be managed and the rewards can be meaningful.
It’s not just staying in touch with people you know, but opening yourself up to meeting NEW people.
And once those online connections are made, it doesn’t feel so strange to “tweet” to the world that your basement flooded, or that you just got back from Jamaica, or that your fish just died or that you need another cup of coffee. While “personal” posts like those do not represent the bulk of what I post on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else…the life-stuff just slips in there every now and again. And whether it’s a great business link or a personal side note, what I post is of value to me FIRST…then I share it via these handy little (free) social tools to (perhaps) provide some value (or a little piece of humanity) to whomever might find it…um…interesting. These things I say online are the same things I’d be telling you in person because they matter to me. They represent part of my experiences. They may even resonate with yours and they may even ignite a new conversation.
“Silly” is in the eye of the beholder.
If it’s not privacy concerns, again and again and again I hear people who are not online talk about why they’re not online — because of how ridiculous some people’s status updates are and how they don’t care about what Sally had for breakfast, and they don’t have time for all of that nonsense…yada, yada, yada. Well that’s fine. But chances are that someone cares what Sally had for breakfast, so get over it. If it feels like noise to you, it’s pretty darn easy to scroll right on by to something else that may be of great interest to you. We all lead busy, busy lives these days, and I’m THRILLED that social media tools enable me to remain connected to people I do care about but aren’t able to see quite as often as life once allowed. If the choice were between never getting to see those people or getting to see one of their so-called “meaningless” status updates, I choose the meaningless status update — and when it’s a good one, I’ll likely retweet it or give it a “like” when I can.
Does telling “the world” that I have a dog (or three), that I have a life outside my business, that I like sailing, that I love Nanci Griffith, that I went on vacation or that I love a particular song make me somehow more vulnerable or less productive than people who aren’t publishing online content? Does it make me feel like my privacy is compromised? Does it make me feel a tad bit silly?
The truth is, it just makes me feel…good.
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