Anyone who has ever spoken to me knows I’m a product of my generation. A day without my smart phone is comparable to the day I was cut from my mother’s umbilical cord. I must have Spotify on any computer I use because silence is the devil. I own paper books – but they’re becoming dusty because I have a Kindle now. If you still use an AOL email address, I assume you’re elderly; if you still use a yahoo email address, I assume you live under a rock. I multi-task like a champ, at all times keeping two browsers open with six tabs running on each to toggle between my work tasks and my personal branding and you better believe I will click off a website in under a second if I don’t like the fonts it uses.
I’ve always loved reading, and though I enjoyed George Orwell’s 1984 when it was assigned in high school, it was almost laughable to think of this supposed futuristic world taking place a year before I was even born. I hadn’t really given the book, or the premise behind it, much thought until this week when my friend told me she had quit Foursquare.
“I have to check in before my roommate gets home so he doesn’t steal my mayorship.”
“Yeah, I recently just lost all of mine.”
“I quit Foursquare. Twitter, too.”
“I reread 1984. It really creeped me out.”
Light bulb. While I didn’t react with the same Big Brother fear that she did, I definitely got that feeling of everything coming eerily full circle. Facebook asks what’s on your mind. Twitter asks what’s happening. Foursquare asks where we are –and we tell them. 1984’s constant tabs on everyone was government mandated, but we voluntarily share everything and anything with anyone who cares enough to read it.
That’s okay, though – we have privacy settings we can select! Sure. But just how private are they? After I had accepted my position with my current employer and submitted my two week notice to my previous one, I updated my Facebook status with my exciting news. Two days later, I received an email from another company I had interviewed with, informing me they had wanted to extend a second interview to me, but found during their “standard social media search” I had accepted a position elsewhere and wanted to know if this was true. I double checked. All my privacy settings were set to friends only. Unless I have a friend working in this company’s HR that I was unaware of, there’s more than one way to find someone’s information if you really want to.
Privacy settings aside – what about the individual who chooses not to partake in social media at all? Well, that comes with the price of an attached stigma. In college, one of my internships told me they had checked to see if I had Facebook before interviewing me because if I didn’t have one, I wouldn’t have been offered the internship. Why? Because everyone has a Facebook account. If you don’t, you’re weird and behind the times.
The future of 1984 that George Orwell so vividly painted for us may now be 28 years in the past – but is it? Giving up all our info is voluntary, of course, but I’m sure I speak for many when I say I’ve become very relaxed and almost lazy about it. We all have things we’d never tweet, update, or check in with, but when I think about how open I am about the tiniest things, anyone, anywhere, could easily figure out who I am, what I’m about, and where I’ll be at any given moment- and I even use those fancy, new-fangled privacy settings available.
So knowing this, and being called out on it, am I likely to get be more mindful of what I do or don’t post on my social networks? Nope. Big Brother, feel free to keep watching. It’s Follow Friday, and I have a Twitter feed to catch up on.