Monday, April 12, 2010

Public lives

Human beings have a natural tendency to protect their privacy. It's in our essence to allow only certain people to see who we really are, what we really do, what we really think, and how we really feel. Nowadays Social Networks make us feel more comfortable sharing more information openly and with more people making people's lives less private.

Twitter can feed the narcissistic tendencies of human beings. A large amount of people believe others are interested in the everyday minutia of their lives. Judging by Twitter's initial success and unparalleled growth, it appears to have fulfilled a need for self-expression far beyond what other technologies allow. This incessant broadcasting of people's lives, however, comes with its own set of dangers beyond its pernicious effect of inflating our egos.
  • When you make private information public it is easier for others to spot your weaknesses and figure out ways to harm or take advantage of you.
  • It is not uncommon to receive inaccurate feedback from others, which can lead to misunderstandings and/or misinformation.
  • The information you publish can be taken out of context, making you an easy target for defamation.
  • People do not fully understand the extent of the impact information disclosure can provoke. Twitter is less than five years old. This is a brand new medium, and we are just now beginning to recognize its potential consequences.
Every one must think hard before they make any data public. Realize that the information, once released, will live forever on the Web. The consideration must always be whether or not it can ever come back to haunt you resulting in any kind of damage (to your reputation, relationships, businesses, job, etc.). It is easy to avoid bad results from happening just by thinking before acting.


Paul said...

Privacy is one of the biggest and most important issues on the internet. The only way I have found to deal with it is to behave as though absolutely everything you do is in full view of everybody who knows you. That is, act as if there is no privacy.

Linda S. Socha said...

Excellent post...totally on target. At least we have the control of what we post ourselves....I feel so much of the info on the Web is
indiscriminate and alas inaccurate

JanetK said...

People tend to feel exposed if they are open about themselves on the web but unless you are famous or infamous or rich or become somehow a celeb in the future, who cares, except your friends, what you do or think? I think it is a middle aged thing: the young are too brave and foolish to worry and the old have very little to lose. The middle aged have careers, reputations, financial responsiblities etc. to protect so they will be more guarded. They also have less time to chat on line.

Elisabeth said...

It's a vexed issue this one Mariana, the clash between the public and private. I worry about it a great deal, as I'm sure others d. Maybe Janet K is right. It's more of an issue for the older generation. That said, I know young people who are more concerned about issues to do with privacy than me.

Then there is the degree to which so-called 'reality' is constructed, which suggests that what you see from the private world may not be so private after all.

The Internet certainly provides us with a brave new world.

ines said...

Interesting post. I was thinking of the reasons that cause people to feel the need of living public lives. Probably the need to form part of a community where they are respected and apreciated is a strong one. Anyway there must be other interesting ones.

guillermo said...

I was thinking that facebook is perhaps the most dangerous platform when it comes to sharing information. With its multitude of privacy, search and profile settings, Facebook can be confusing for average users who want to protect themselves. Unless you've created segmented Friends lists, your site activity will be announced for all to see.

Shadow said...

many people only realise this once they feel their privacy has been breached... i agree. THINK before you publish!

Mariana Soffer said...

That is a good way to deal with it, it surelly helps to avoid many undesired consequences. One of the problems that remains is that information related to us that we do not want to be seen can be published by other's. Maybe the best thing to do is live our lives with nothing to hide.

Mariana Soffer said...

Linda S. Socha:
Thank you very much.
What you say about having control of our own published information is true, nevertheless the problem I stated in my reply to paul's comment remains; There is information about us published by public and private institutions and in different kind's of sites; we have no control over that.
Thanks a lot for your comment.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot for your great comment.
It is true that the people who care are mainly your friends, but others exist as well such as possible employers.
Great reflection about this affecting mainly middle ages, never thought about it, I guess one of the skills they should develop is learn to handle these things.
Forgive me but I did not understood what is the relation of what you said with having less time to chat, I need to think more to understand it, or if you do not mind please help me with it.
Take care Janet.

Mariana Soffer said...

Like you said, it is complex, it really is. I never cared too much about privacy, nevertheless at the beggining I avoided talking about my personal life, but later on It became harder for me (specially with twitter and the other social networks that include it).
I completelly agree with your second paragraph, great reflection indeed.
Thanks for sharing

Mariana Soffer said...

I am certainly curious about what are the causes provoking the need to become public. I think there must be many, such as:
-The desire to became famous in the virtual world.
-The need to be listened.
-Finding people who we can share our things with.
-Finding people who we can collaborate in projects.
-Feeling less lonely.

Mariana Soffer said...

I have serious problems with facebook myself because I do not understand properly how to share exclusively with the target audience of each piece of information we publish. I am also confused about how to deal with the privacy settings of all the different things, such as applications, groups, tweets, etc. There are also many other issues regarding privacy in this platform that are very difficult to handle properly. I think a better interface is needed.

Mariana Soffer said...

It is true, I guess you know that prevention is always cheaper (in every sence) than having to pay the consequences.
Thanks for comming here my friend

Uncle Tree said...

Thank you for this post, Mariana!
It set me to thinking, as usual.


Every entity, every living cell (conscious or not) think's it's the boss. Where then lies an individual's ego?

The danger being: Getting your persona and your true self all mixed up.

Node to node, I talk to my self.
I am: The Network
The Network exists, but it cannot do without ME.

Biologically speaking, THEY know me well.
Cybernetically speaking, THEY only know my mind.
Spiritually speaking, THEY are ME talking back to US.

Modulating bipolaroscities is my busy-ness, multiplied to infinity.

Silent prayers work best because: I AM the only one who listens, and listens well. (No assembly or action required)

Confused? Me2
Luvz & Hugz! UT
(Spain, eh? Lucky!)

Mariana Soffer said...

uncle tree:
My pleasure, thanks to you for sharing things with me.
To tell you the truth you where the person who inspired me to write this post. My original idea for this was to give advice to regular people for protecting themselves of the harm the use of social networks can produce to them, including things such as identity theft, but somehow it derived mostly in the subject of privacy.

Ego ego ego, what a difficult thing to deal with. Very interesting the danger you mentioned, never thought about it.

It is excelent what you say in your following paragraphs/verses, it relates to some of my reflections regarding networks, human aspects and how they relate with networking culture, absurdity; I think it is also an attempt of understanding and explaining things in an un-ortodox style.

Let confussion be.
Love you so much uncle T.

Charles Gramlich said...

I labor under no false impression that my moment to moment actions and thoughts are of interest to people. It's bad enough that I blog about a lot of personal stuff. But at least I give feedback on other's blogs.

Bryan Borland said...

Privacy. I don't remember what that is. :) I think I gave that up the minute I purchased!!!

girlontape said...

I had no idea my blog would attract so many sharks & I felt very stupid afterwards for being such easy prey. However the rewards outweigh the downside so far. As an artist I need my public, and I've learned to protect myself from the groupies, hangers on & assorted social climbers... I think...

Joe Bloggs said...

Zee nastycigarstick (narcissistic) atavism - ooph!auw! - swhitsch shoe mention intziss moast eggsxalent poohst - hiss zee von Hi beat mighself wit fur vun, jah9?

Boot zee questshone iz - do zey half/shore (& darefour, hour) soupazekret data? - Xee coat to ze banquink noomper, ze daxoffice etz. etzetra - ! Offcoarse zey doohda, doohda; nowh heavybody-sink-zis-zonk, allzeedoohda-deigh-lonk

Eye moosed add; High luked a liddle (zen Eye crawsed my ice), butt sore no wreason knot to chump ride onin...I mean, onion...I mean, ride on

git on hup, light an xmachine, gitup, stay on the seen...

Mariana Soffer said...

Charles Gramlich:
Thanks for sharing what you do and what you think related to the post subject.

Mariana Soffer said...

Bryan Borland:
You crack me up man, it is hilarious what you say, specially cause it is true as well. Anyways I think you are doing very well in the net.

Val said...

I think privacy is a myth. It's always been a myth. When there was no internet or even telephones, people lived in small communities where gossip was rife and everyone knew everyone else. Now, with technology, all sorts of entities or interested parties have information on everyone else and once you have a taxation number, credit card number, phone number etc, you are no longer off the information grid so to speak. The flip side of this is of course, that there is so much excess information about so many people, that we are actually being turned off socially and a very negative psychological feeding frenzy is taking place is reminiscent of witch trials and puritans. Advice: stay off facebook and twitter or only talk to about bland boring things with only close friends, family and associates thus ensuring that you don't even bother using them at all. lol

Mariana Soffer said...

I do not think you are stupid at all, I think you where kind of innocent.
Now that I study the net content it does not seem weird to me that you atracted many sharks, the world is full of wankers (excuse my language).
All artist have to deal with exposing themselves, that must be really hard to deal with, but it can be learned, which I am glad you did.
Take care and thanks for stepping by stef.

Lavender said...

Oh Mariana, I have tried to tell people I know the very same things - but I was much less eloquent and concise than you....nicely written, Bravo!

christopher said...

If you live under spiritual discipline you will live with several goals. To be of service in deep ways is one of them. Rigor in honesty is another. To be connected is a third. Something I call transparency allows for the increase of trust between those who communicate together. Transparency consists of discussion that invites another into intimacy. Intimacy itself is a goal. Sharing from deep levels, placing oneself on display to a spiritual purpose is valuable and in some circles essential to the process.

There is a prerequisite or else this kind of behavior is insane on this must have come to terms with oneself in such a way that the struggle is largely over. If I live transparently then I can speak transparently. If I no longer have things to hide, then my privacy, which I still cherish is no longer a blanket over the things about me that I share.

This does not mean that I am likely to tell you certain passwords and other numbers critical in my life, the size of my bank account or the actual address of my house. I also tend to keep my last name private on line. I will not tell you that until you are a friend and need to know.

Mariana Soffer said...

Joe Bloggs:
Do you have a querty keyboard or is it a french one?
Did you have a few drinks before writting the comment?
I tried to use a decryption algorithm to understand you but it did not work.
It seems to be very profound what you said anyway. Nevertheless you are welcome to answer the questions I made.

Mariana Soffer said...

Maybe one of the differences about the past and nowadays is that private stuff was not broadcasted in an indiscriminate way, it was propagated in a more personalized and particular way.
I agree that information overload provokes a negative and unconfortable effect, I think intelligent information filters are desperatelly needed nowadays.
I liked your advice, but sadly I need to use them for my work, so I can not do as you say.
Really nice reading you again val, take care.

Mariana Soffer said...

I am glad you liked how I communicated the content. To tell you the truth I had serious doubts about it's coherence and completness. I can be exesivelly concise sometines.
Thanks for the compliment

Mariana Soffer said...

Excelent commentary, you expressed perfectly what I wanted to say before but could not put it in clear words. I do belive that the best way of living our lives is having nothing to hide, because we are ok the way we are, therefore it can not make us any harm making public our stuff. But like you said this does not mean we need to publish our credit card number or show everybody how we look when we are naked.
Thanks for the great comment.

human being said...

suRELY we shOuld
our sELF
wHO We are
who they aRe
who yoU are

exhibITionISm kILLs the cat, thoUGH...


JanetK said...

Mariana, my comment about age was not that deep. I think middle aged people are more defensive for good reason - they have move at stake (like, as you say, possible employers). Young people can be more naive and older people less threatened by info-stealers. As far as time to chat is concerned - I just find working or studying people with families (young children and elderly parents) do not have the TIME that teenagers and seniors have.
Your list of reasons for giving details of ones life is also interesting. I have started to think about why I do. Here a preliminary list:
1. I live far away from almost all my friends and family and even just people I know. 2. I will not live many more years and want to have facts about me and views I have, available after I am dead. 3. I need more human contact (chat, gossip, and serious talk) then I get and so use the web. 4. I have a life of experience that may be valuable to others (ego really).

the walking man said...

It is sage advice Mariana...nothing is introduced by me about me on the web that is not easily found in other public sources. if anyone really wants to know me then they must see my eyes in real time.

tipota said...

also, i have found a great deal of info is inaccurate! and how do you call up a search engine to tell them the information is wrong? sometimes data may be misspelled or numbers wrongly typed. i have had this happen where my personal phone number was wrongly linked to someone else and i was getting calls from people looking for the other. i couldn't fix it. i had to put a message on my answering machine. "this is not so-and-so, please call your phone company for the correct number" and after about three months it finally dwindled and i took the message off, but even now i still get the occasional confused caller

Mariana Soffer said...

human being:
As always is a pleasure to read your comments, they are amazing.
As paradoxically as it sounds "we should exit our self to find who we are" is really true, is amazing.
And the exhibitionism sentence is excellent pure poetry. The problem might be that: "disclosure becomes the norm and privacy becomes a quaint anachronism"
I love the way you think and express yourself.

Mariana Soffer said...

Now I understand what you meant better, thanks for clarifying it.
I really like your idea of enumerating the reasons why you give details about your life, you left me thinking a lot with them, nevertheless let me tell you I am positive your 4th point is a really good and valid one, and it does not necessarily emerge from your ego, but from the desire to teach valuable things to others that you know you have learned.
Anyway you made me wanna do a public survey in order to find why people do that and analyze it, it could help understand many things that are going on actually.

Mariana Soffer said...

The walking man:
I am glad you found this post valuable, thanks for saying it.
I am pretty sure is true that it can be found in other places, nevertheless publishing them allows that information to reach a wider audience making it easier for people to find it.
Loved your last sentence, I am sure I could find the wisdom the moment I look into your eyes.

Mariana Soffer said...

It is very difficult to manipulate or change the information once it is out there, it takes a life of its own, like what happens with artworks.
Interesting story about the number, I had an hilarious one too, my home number was published in the newspaper as if it where from an escort service in order to ask for girls. We had tons of awkward calls by then.

Rayuela said...

absolutamente de acuerdo!


Mariana Soffer said...

Glad you found it coherent and relevant, thanks for your support.

Anonymous said...

it becomes
increasingly difficult
separate ourselves from this technology

good post, mariana

× × ×


foam said...

what you write here is of real concern, mariana.

i don't understand the appeal of twitter.
i'm on fb and even though i have my privacy settings in place, i treat it as if it were open to everybody.
therefore, it's just about the most boring place to visit on fb.

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB) said...

I remember 'the old days' when people did not willingly expose themselves. We had at that time the 'STASI' - the gouvernment's intelligence board - which collected enough information about every individual. There was also a lot of illegel espionage. I don't think we should worry. They already know everything about us.

Mariana Soffer said...

it is so true what you say, limits start to blurr between who we are and the artificial extensions we all have now that made us cyborgs, which of course include social networks.
Nice to see you here pal

Mariana Soffer said...

my friend, I am glad you found this relevant.
To tell you the truth I do not really understand the appeal of twitter at all either, but I am curious about it still, see if I get it for real, anyway I need to use the social networks for my work (Twt,FB,Friendfeed), so I use them in part cause of my job.
You do well in not trusting facebook, the interface it is pretty tricky and unclear, so you can make mistakes and do not even notice that you published unwanted stuff for everybody to see.
Facebook it is boring to me also, but it is interesting from an antropological perspective, at least to me, to study how people interact, what they care about, etc.
Let me know your FB account, so I can add you as a friend, mine is marianasoffer or mariana soffer, one of them.
Take care and thanks

Mariana Soffer said...

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB):
Interesting what you tell about STASI, I did not know that, must have been pretty harsh to live trough that. I do not worry about privacy much either, but what I am curious is about understanding why people want everybody to know about the personal things in their lives anyway.
Thanks for your interesting comment

geek said...

Yeah, so true. Though internet has a lot of advantages , it can cause a lot of damages. Like everything else too much trust on internet is dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot for your thougts on the subject, it is really nice to see you here.
Trust is an important, long and coplicated issue, we should discuss more thoroughly one ot these days.

Hope you are doing really well indeed.
Take care my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

thanks a lot for the very informative link about facebook, I recomend people to see it, it is relevant and interesting.

J said...

Are political parties now data mining the social web sites to find support and target policies?

Mariana Soffer said...

Political parties are using text mining and data mining to try to increase their popularity, find more support and to obtain other benefits for sure, but I doubt about how effective this practices result in reality.
Interesting question J

J said...

Well, I have not received a leaflet through my door yet saying "we undestand from your web output that you may be interested in voting for us" yet, true enough.

Joe Bloggs said...

Aye, I have a qwerty keyboard and sum+times when eat bores me; Oil turnip int2aphonetic teaboard juiced for fun. Poohbably beercause I half so little to say.

Heat could be fun, boot I zink zat a zerty clavier wood make thinks très difficile 4 an imbecile ash moiself.

Anyway, this profound spacewasting proseedyour involves teetotal focus and precludes ingestion of any substances whatsoever apart from whatever (volcanic ash etc.) there may be present in the air. If I find the unfinished reduction to my liking or even lacking, I have been known to go on a twelvefold bender or just take a quiet moonwalk, all deepending on whatever moozak they're playing on the radio.

Ale try to bee more coherent or cohesive, and shorter & sweeter and more to the point in future comments. Aim knot going to promise anything though, as I don't know what I am, if you know who I mean.

Your mention of a decryption algorithm is most flattering. Naturally I don't believe it at all but then again... some tell me they've found enlightenment and others want to sue me for having lost their wits completely.

I realize my idea of wordfun is another person's itch they can't scratch - I'm just happy I'm not messing around (drunk or otherwise) with cars, guns, nukes or women... on the udder hand, words can be just as dangerous, perhaps more... is nothing safe?

Mariana Soffer said...

If you are a thinking person the leaflet will not change the way you behave. It just can lead you to reflect about stuff you did not thought before; which will make you draw you own conclusions regarding them, making you react (or not) to this new reflection your own way. The only peril I see is with the transmission of subliminal content, that is what we should all be attentive taking care of hidden messages entering ourselves.

geek said...

I'll be looking forward to the conversation. Oh, by the way, I wasn't able to greet you on your birthday.. Belated!!

TC said...

Well, Mariana dear, I wouldn't want to belabour this, but in short, my feeling about Twitter (and for that matter about social networking instruments in general) is one of deep, deep distrust.

May I contribute
this to the discussion?

Besos (and happy unbirthday!),


Mariana Soffer said...

I enjoyed your post a lot great pictures and conceptual details, and it certainly follows the line of what you say here in your comment.
I made a post about that myself long ago:, but there I do not just talk about the shortening of our span of attention and other undesired effects but I also add benefits they can bring to us (I am trying to be less critical and try to appreciate also the good aspects most things have, I need to do this with SN because I work with them and I am a nerd, so I d better like them at least a little).
Really nice to see you here tom, thanks!

Mariana Soffer said...

Joe Bloggs:
I like the different creativity ways you express yourself, really original ones. I do not think you have little to say, how you twist things by expressing them in different ways can derive in lots of interesting different concepts you transmit.
Interesting reading about yourself in the second paragraph.
You can express either way you like, I love variety, dough I can not promise to understand everything remember I am not native speaker.
I myself find enlightenment in what you transmit very often.
Regarding your last paragraph I think what you do is a particular artistic expression trough words, and I think it is only dangerous while misunderstood or taken out of context, as most artistic statements. Anyway there is no safety in daring to create, invent and innovate. Or in living life itself.

Pleasure talking to yourself

Mariana Soffer said...

I am glad to see you around and that we start exchanging comments and thoughts again. By the way I passed trough your blog and left some thoughts myself.
Do not worry about my birthday, I do not know what happen but the date was wrong it the thirtieth of November, thanks anyway.
Wish you the best my friend.

Anonymous said...

fui victima de todo eso alguna vez... paranoia?, pienso en eso en tu primer punto; no obstante, es atractivo exponerse, ser leidos: ahora todos tenemos oportunidad de expresar.

pero hay que tener cautela, como todo en la vida.

en estos dias, confiar no es dificil: es algo peligroso.


Mariana Soffer said...

No es necesariamente paranoia el teneer cudado. Es paranoia solo cuando el grado de temor es desproporcionado.
Con respecto al punto uno te puedo decir que yo tambien lo tengo muy presente desde hace tiempo, incluso desde antes que existieran las Social Networks, ya que el mismo peligro esta presente en el mundo no virtual. De todas formas creo que lo mas conveniente es tener un balance entre el cuidado y la exposicion, un riesgo razonable, que nos permita vivir de forma interesante pero no como kamikazes.
Gracias por commentarme.

Dave King said...

A cautionary note, timely and much needed, I think.

Mariana Soffer said...

Dave King:
thanks a lot for your comment, I am certainly puzzled by the social network hype that is going on. I try to study the different aspects of it.

Harlequin said...

the caution you advise is sage, indeed,especially when communication is the goal and seldom the ground!!
and, thinking before one posts ( or speaks !! ) what a concept ( that's irony, btw :^} )

as a good buddy of mine often says, a closed mouth gathers no feet.
thoughtful post, thanks.

Ruela said...

Great post!

reverse metal...

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot dude. it is reversed indeed. I liked the 2 words you ended with.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks for considering it sage, what a nice compliment! I like how you describe the context in such a few words, because it is very important to have present where we are standing regarding this (It is not unusuall to forget/distortionate original goala, converting analysis attempts in nonsense blabbery leading nowhere).

Loved your so called irony, thinking before posting seems to be incompatible with the current Social Networking systems, it seems to confront their actual principles.

I am not preciselly sure what you mean with the saying about mouth and feet, what is the idea behind it? I have a hunch but would love clarification, to see if I am not missunderstanding it, I will check it if I can anyway.

Thanks for your conscice and really thoughtfull words.
Love to you and thanks

Anonymous said...

Today I read on this question much.