Thursday, September 13, 2007

Privacy, Please

I was reading Seth Godin's blog tonight. He was pointing out how, with this new era of blogging and twitter and such, almost everything is "on the record". This is all well and good. After all, people should feel free to reveal as much or little of their life as they desire. The problem arises when someone else is involved in the activity. When do we have the right to reveal something about someone else?

His recommendation was the acronym NFYB ("not for your blog") be prepended to any statement which you wanted kept private.

His post reminded me of a book I'd read a while ago now called "Earth" by David Brin. In it, Brin postulated a future in which we basically have no privacy. Technology and miniaturization had progressed to a point where anyone could afford to have a tiny mobile spy-eye wherever they wanted. In his future, the elderly in the neighborhood used such technology to keep track of everything that went on. As a result, even the biggest city became like a small town. Everyone knew exactly what everyone else was doing, so no one could get away with anything.

Personally, I don't know how I feel about that. In Brin's belief, the fact that no one could get away with anything meant that everyone pretty much behaved themselves. Me? I'm not so sure. So far, we humans seems to be a pretty clever species when it comes to "getting away with it". For the most part, if someone really wants to misbehave, they somehow find a way.

The people who really suffer from lack of privacy are those who have some quality outside the norm over which they may have no control (and who doesn't fall into that group?). Their "outing" is painful and embarrassing and undeserved. So, I guess until we have evolved enough that we can fully accept those who are different from us, we can only hope that social convention is enough to smooth over the differences.

Will "NFYB" do the trick? Sure. Just as soon as everyone agrees to follow that social convention.

So how do you decide what's OK to pass along, whether by email, telephone, or blog?

1 comment:

Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

Always ask! Do you mind if I blog about this? Is it okay to tell other people? Do you WANT other people to know about this or do they know already?

That being said, I am reminded of a quote by Will Smith (yes, the Fresh Prince)
"Live so that you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip."