Privacy Vs. Human Nature

By Cyndy Bolton

Have you ever watched ants as they form a line to march towards a feast? I guess our entertainment choices were modest as we were growing up, but I do remember my brother and I checking out how ants behaved. We would watch them as their march triumphed over leaves, twigs and rocks in their path. Throw a branch in their way, and they would march over it. Dig a deep hole, fill it with water, and they would go around it. Funny things, these ants were.

Human nature is interesting too. Curious characteristics innately drive us to circumvent barriers. Just like ants, we are persistently finding solutions to problems, although more complex than our ground dwelling insect neighbours. Billions of dollars are spent on research. Countless hours are invested in raising the quality of life. People are striving to solve the Global Warming crisis all thanks to our innate need to advance civilization.

In a way, barriers are a good thing. Think of how they test our strength of character. Without tests such as these, we would never have accomplished great and positive things such as the development of insulin, antibiotics and understanding the recipe of DNA. Unfortunately, there are also negative by products of these discoveries. Nuclear and biological warfare weapons are derivatives of positive breakthroughs.

In a smaller way, this relates to your online accounts and profiles. If you have an account that anyone can access, everyone can see it. You allow your family and friends to see what you post and who you associate with. You also open the social media doors of your profile to your pastor, your doctor, your social worker/probation officer and human resources officer. Imagine the result when the HR representative at the company you just applied to looks through your photos. Do these items reflect the life o f a boozer, or an overall good guy? If you look like a party animal, you probably won't make it to the next level of interviews. If you are posting mostly party shots, you are risking your reputation and credibility. Even if you are not a party animal, you will leave that impression on the viewer. My suggestion is to keep a few shots of you and friends having a glass of wine, but mix it up with office, leisure and family shots too. Remember to keep your language clean and try not to join any questionable pages or groups, it's just good etiquette.

Here's where the ants come marching in. Social media users are now creating ways to avoid this by having two accounts. The main one is used for marketing themselves to employers and formally communicating with family and friends, and the secondary account for close family and friends. Their real name is on the formal account. This enables search engines to match queries. The other account uses a pseudonym or nickname.

How clever! It's a work-around that has circumvented the lack of privacy online, or has it? If your behaviour is atrocious, you risk the chance of your online antics going viral. This is great if you want masses of people to see you in less than desirable situations. The hype lasts a micro-minute and the impact usually lasts longer. Keep in mind the kind of attention you will attract, and ask yourself if it's worth the negative attention. It is time consuming to invest in one account, let alone two. Managing more than one account can lead to confusion. The user may accidentally post an inappropriate item on the formal, more conservative account. Have you ever prematurely hit "send" on an email? I have. No "undo" here. Same as online, the pages are archived and are accessible "forever".

In this world of trying to keep things simple, our attempt have been valiant, but not so successful. Much like our pie-in-the-sky goals of living in a paperless society, we have created situations that not only cause us to work longer and less efficiently, but miss the mark. Think about the "how and who" as you present yourself online. It's important to make a positive impact before you set your presence in cyber "stone".