Last month I wrote an article on why my husband and I never post photos of our child online. Included in this post I explained why we also do not disclose any of locations we have been with our daughter and why we try to limit the amount of personal information we share regarding her. Not long after writing this particular piece I stumbled across an article featured in Time Magazine that held a similar concept to the one in my blog.
The brief article, entitled My Experiment Opting Out of Big Data Made Me Look Like a Criminal, describes how personal information is collected throughout the government, academic and industry markets. The mantra of “if you don’t like it, just opt out” is thrown at individuals who are uncomfortable with how public their lives are becoming yet this is not as simple or easy as its advocates proclaim. Janet Vertesi, the article’s author, demonstrated how complicated this catchphrase really is with a nine-month long experiment to see if she could keep her pregnancy a secret from the Internet (which would have fed that information through databases that companies use for targeted advertising). The author concluded the article by stating that her ‘experiment’ was personally inconvenient to herself and her husband while making interactions with family and friends extremely awkward and rude. She even wrote that she and her husband were seen as inconsiderate, abrupt and antisocial.
All of this to say, I was encouraged by what I read. I can relate with the above statement as many people view my husband and I as “inconsiderate, abrupt, rude” and somewhat “antisocial” for being picky about what we share via the Internet regarding our daughter. It is very unfortunate that our desire to live private lives have caused the individuals and community around us to label us in such a manner while straining relationships. And although the Time’s article features a slightly different topic then the one that I shared a few weeks ago, the theme is the same. The ability to opt out of publicly sharing every aspect of one’s life is viewed negatively and met with fierce criticism. Gone are the days of personal, face-to-face interactions among individuals. In its place is surface-level relationships with individuals merely interested in learning the details of their peers lives without ever holding a conversation. Convenience, comfort and complacency have made our society unwilling to invest richly or deeply into individual human life. And have alienated those who desire this and more.