While talking to my dad yesterday, the subject of social networking came up – specifically my 16-year-old brother’s proclivity towards Facebook and MySpace. My dad, 51 and a successful commercial real estate developer, doesn’t get these sites. He doesn’t understand why anyone would want to “put themselves out there” with such blatant disregard for their own personal privacy (it’s worth noting that one of my dad’s mantras is to “fly beneath the radar”).
Now my brother’s reaction – and presumably mine – would be, “Man, dad, you sound so old. You just don’t get it.” But, as I wander forward through my 20s, I am only now beginning to realize and more importantly appreciate my Pop’s wisdom, and for the first time I think, maybe he does get it.
The concept of privacy is quickly fading as today’s anti-interpersonal communicative society hangs on the likes of Facebook walls and MySpace posts. And as we regress, personal relationships will eventually be rendered obsolete. But the worst part of all this is that we don’t even realize what our once-prized privacy is becoming.
Well here’s what’s happening:
The Washington Post reported today that MySpace and Facebook are expanding their targeted ads. In short, MySpace is expanding options for advertisers to target consumers based on personal information volunteered by users. In the same spirit, Facebook is launching a system called SocialAds that will track all sorts of user information.
Personal privacy is disappearing and commercialism is speedily filling the void. The more often a 16-year-old can say, “Oh cool, I can post photos of my bedroom so my friends can see what it’s like,” or something similar, the more advertisers salivate. The Philosophy of a Non-Personal Communication 101 thesis might look something like, “Abandon all hope of personal privacy and make way for a blitzkrieg of advertising that you (yes, you) created … oh, and text ‘awesome’ to 55436 right now to get a message from an MTV VJ.”
So as our personal privacy goes the way of the buffalo, trying to fly under the radar might not be such a bad idea. After all, excessive advertising crammed down your throat can’t be too healthy. Remember the value of privacy, be conscious of the commercial machine and go out and TALK to someone. As much I like looking at my friends’ profiles and pictures online, I think it’s safe to say people are much more interesting in person.