How Social Networks Affect Our Privacy?

Privacy is a difficult concept to grasp. Our world is changing from day to day, and it is sometimes difficult to define what is on the private side or public side. Besides, is it possible to define private? Is putting a beautiful photograph on Instagram, something private? However, it is indeed my photo, my life and it is up to me to choose who can look at it. So, have we lost the notion of privacy? Have the boundaries changed? What are the elements behind this paradigm shift, if any?

1) IRL vs. Social Networks

Today, social networks take a significant place in people’s lives. They enable people to maintain social activities and share common interests. Thus, they foster belongingness. We are all more or less following this trend to extend our social scope. Surprisingly, those who decide to stay away from all of this are more or less considered as “troglodytes” and “pestiferous.“ This fact is all the more marked by the group effect that reinforces this intrusive complicity and the need to be socially ubiquitous. Nowadays, it has become a standard commonplace to share moments of our private life. In such a digital world, it is no longer conceivable to keep our privacy to yourself. We share everything, our experiences, our memories, our smiles, our tears, our daily life.

This new era breaks down all the barriers that our ancestors have been trying to overcome for so many years. We break codes, we become transparent with each other, without taboos. We have been taught for several years that if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear! “We have nothing to “hide.” We show ourselves and expose ourselves even furthermore. This argument is subtly repeated and has been strongly supported following the tragedy of the attacks of recent years. Today, this determination to be “transparent” resonates within us as something rational.

Read our previous article about why you should stop saying you have nothing to hide .

This form of exhibitionism is also and above all accentuated by the desire to increase its visibility on social networks. It is then necessary to give life to your profile as much as possible by providing it with publications, sharing, commenting and questioning. We thus remain in a logic of constant interactivity to be more visible. “To be visible” means to become seen by anyone. Privacy becomes exposed. Social media has fostered a culture of ego, a culture of “self.” An excessive need to be admired expressed in different forms such as advantageous selfies, dream clichés that collect as many “likes,” as retweets” and followers. There is a constant obsession to be seen by anyone and by any means to have a hierarchical social recognition. A kind of competition of one against the other is organized around these networks to gain more and more “friends” to be seen and exist to satisfy the ego. It undeniably links up with what is more commonly known as the “society of appearance.” It‘s a game of actors in which we all play with different degrees.

2) No Longer A Simple Sharing

It is no longer a simple sharing. Instead, it is a question of promoting, a real concern for staging established by constant and strategic management of social capital. In most cases, people only upload photos that show them at their best angle. Some online applications make these images more attractive. Most of the time, people don’t care about showing their true identity on social networks, they want to present a “perfect” image of themselves. What we post on the networks is therefore not the accurate reflection of his private life. We expose what we want to expose. We show what we want to show. We do not publish a private discussion in the eyes of others, for example. In reality, we want to control what must be seen and heard by others. We care about our privacy. However, we think, more or less naively, we can control it.

Moreover, yet, many whistleblowers have shown us the opposite. We have all, as best we can, heard the denunciations of Edward Snowden, a computer genius and former NSA employee, revealing documents classified as secret by the US National Security Agency concerning the capture of our metadata, Internet listening systems, and mass surveillance programs. Moreover, one of his concerns says a lot about the behavior of our current society:

" I’m afraid people are already jaded by this kind of revelation, that they’ll get used to it. Stalin said that death was a tragedy, but a million deaths was a statistic. Today, it’s a huge scandal when you hear that Angela Merkel is being tapped, but no one cares that 80 million Germans are being watched." –Edward Snowden

3) Tests & Conclusion

TEST #1: imagine that you are having a lovely evening with friends. You need to be away for a few minutes and leave your things. When you come back, you catch one of your friends in the act, snooping around on your smartphone.

What will be your reaction? Angry? A feeling of being disillusioned?

TEST #2: you are quietly sitting on your sofa. You take your smartphone and chat with a friend, then surf the Internet and do much research on a topic that concerns you. You know in the corner of your head that you are indeed being watched because you are smart and aware of government practices.

What is your reaction, in any case? You say to yourself, “After all, what can I do about it?” and then you continue your activities.

TEST #3: You are at home and surfing on your smartphone. Then, mechanically, your eye is carried towards your outside window, and you see 20 NSA members, with binoculars, spying on everything you do on your phone.

What will be your reaction? Fear? Anger? The amazement? A feeling of being disillusioned?

A simple question to conclude those simple tests: which situation is the worst?

None is the correct answer. So why we keep accepting the unacceptable by the mere fact, it’s not visible? Cheers Internet, feel free to clap & follow our stories, see you next time. 🤫

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📷 by Geralt