Authenticity #3 – Privacy Online

Recently I was shown this video from Greg Benson of MediocreFilms on YouTube.

It’s a great video, and I do recommend that you check out the rest of his videos over on his YouTube channel. If you’re someone who is sensitive about foul language though be warned, not all of his videos are as peachy-clean as the one above, although a lot are!

Watching this video made me incredibly aware of the amount of information that we put out online, and that we don’t necessarily know who can actually see that information. I’m pretty sure that it made you think about it too. Apart from being humorous, I’d guess that’s one of the intentions of the video.

The amount of information that we put online is staggering. Our names, addresses, pictures, videos, holiday destinations, birthdays, last night’s dinner… The list is nearly endless. What’s worrying about this is that according to the eConsultancy, only 46% of UK Internet consumers consider privacy an important issue that they consider regularly. Also, that a high percentage of people think that the government, or website owners, are responsible for regulating their own online security – rather than themselves. (Source: eConsultancy Blog)

Private!

With social media growing, we are finding more and more ways to share our lives and also creating more forums in which to share. Obviously being safe online is important, particularly when it comes to card details etc etc etc… But our payment details aren’t the only thing that we need to watch out for, and the video above really highlights this.
Do you follow any pages on Facebook that could access your details like this? That could find out where you live and turn up to your house? Know where you have been on holiday? Know the names of your children? (If applicable, of course) It’s worth thinking about.

Here’s another question though: do measures to keep our information safe and private online affect our authenticity in the digital space?

It comes down – again – to the idea of a ‘photoshopped-self’ online (Thanks to @pmphillips for informing me of this term). By cutting bits out online, we are editing the material that represents us; therefore affecting the possible ways in which we might be viewed by others.
We are changing what people can think of us at conception, therefore restricting the way they that we can be viewed at consumption.

The way I see it, everything that we do online changes the way that we are received, and so editing what can or cannot be seen will definitely influence our online authenticity. It seems to me that there is a balance to be found.
How much do we hold back, and for what reasons? Could this information compromise your safety? Or is it just going to compromise your image?

There’s also etiquette to consider here – could what I’m about to say be seen as spiteful, mean or nasty? Might be best not to put it out there.
Recently I’ve started to think this before I tweet:

  1. If I am replying to someone, I think – ‘Would I say this to this person in a face to face conversation?’
  2. If I am tweeting in general I think – ‘Would I say this in front of a crowd?’ (Assuming I wasn’t terrified of speaking in front of groups, of course).
  3. And finally, I take a minute to look at how it could be read and try my best to see if it could be taken the wrong way.

That’s just what I do. Anyway, I’m sorry again for the lack of definite answers to anything here, but I’m not sure there ever will be any. I hope you enjoyed mulling this over with me.

What do you think?

  • How conscious are you of the information that you put online? Do you know who can see what?
  • In what ways do you try to be authentic online?
  • Any ‘Twittiquette’ tips to share?

I would love to see your comments!

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One comment

  1. Pam Smith (@revpamsmith)

    Interesting thoughts. I’ve been heavily involved in online interaction, ministry and social networking for quite a while now and I have come to the conclusion it’s more or less impossible to create the image you want to create. You may think you are cleverly editing yourself but somehow the real you ‘leaks’ out when you least expect it. For example, there is a phenomenon called the #humblebrag – search it on twitter but it does what it says – it’s a tweet where someone intends to sound humble but unintentionally sounds as if they are showing off. I think the sort of considerations you list are a good corrective to the recklessness that some of us feel when we are interacting from behind a keyboard, but face you have thought about the effect you have on others shows that you are a thoughtful person, and that is how you’ll come across, Authenticity is as much about what we do (and don’t do) as what we say.

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