1) Anything you (and others) put online is there forever.
2) Anything you (or others) put online becomes difficult to own and control.
3) Privacy is a thing of the past (anyone in public can be photographed by anyone legally but now everyone everywhere can capture anything anywhere and publish everything wherever).
4) You aren't in control of who you are anymore because when you choose to go online or others put you online, others then have the ability to define you. Nothing you do or say ever can go unnoticed anymore. (did it, anyway?)
We are becoming naked to the world and privacy and identity are changing with virtual and real life merging in ways beyond our control. What is that photo above? I found it by snooping.
I came across this photo on my daughter's facebook page and thought it was provocative, culturally. I came across it via accessing, surreptitiously, her site without permission and, also without her permission, I lifted it to think about it and write about it. I have placed it here, altering any identifying elements.
She has now given me permission to not only use this photo, but to add her two cents to what I've written above.
For one, (an innocuous point), I find the photo to be an interesting social statement, culturally. The opposite message from what we have traditionally been programmed to see and celebrate. So the message and image have some profundity to us as women and as Americans. But this isn't about my stealing this photo or what I think about it or about what was happening in her life that explains this photo. This is all about how we are choosing to conduct our lives and how we are teaching our children to do so.
I have always respected the privacy of my children. But in an age of virtual lives overlapping real lives, there are real serious issues... (my daughter is past MySpace but isn't it creepy that there are over 29,000 sex offenders registered on that site according to an Advertising Age article and yesterday the NYTimes ran an article about how Facebook is encountering the same problems). These are lessons that children have to learn way before they become teenagers, says my just-turned-19 daughter.
In her words:
Personal online spaces are also ways of showing how you conduct your life and they are reflections of your character. It isn't just a reflection of what you choose to show, but it can also be a reflection of what your friends (or strangers) choose to show. You can't hide anything anymore. For example, inevitably you could be in a photo with other people in the background who are doing stupid things. Who could put that in context? You can't defend how others choose to portray you. You can't control it, so one of my friends didn't go to a post-prom party because she couldn't control what others might do and she didn't want to be in any photos. So it isn't just about being careful about putting your address or personal information online. People will post photos of you elsewhere and you can't delete them or explain them.
Reputations are hard to control. It is causing a really big divide. It is no longer who you say you are, but the company you keep. There is more pressure to careful about who you choose to associate with. It isn't who you say you are anymore, it is who you show you are.
All of this digital and virtual living makes old-time gossip seem like a very minute issue but perhaps mother's adminitions from way back when were right: live your life as if the whole world were watching.
It says something when Facebook has a "privacy officer" position. Privacy is becoming very much a thing of the past. Can privacy be contained?