Are We Sharing Too Much?

F8 has me wondering once again.

No I wasn’t starting my computer in Safe Mode, I am referring to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook was changing again. In his announcement he shared all the new features. I thought many of them were cool! I have gone against the grain with most of my FB friends and declared that I like the look of the new Facebook. It does give you more privacy control but you need to learn how to use it. How many people know they can set How Tags Work?

Heck, how many people know Facebook has some amazing facial recognition software that will identify you in pictures other people post. Think about it. Say you call out sick and head out to see your local sports team. Meanwhile a complete stranger from another corner of the state heads to the game with some friends. They sit one row in front of you and snap a shot on their cell phone and immediately shoot it off to Facebook. The next day you check Facebook and BAM! There you are in the background, with a beer in one hand and hot dog in the other. Sadly, you wouldn’t have lost your job to a strangers picture if you knew how to turn that automatic tagging off. Here in lies the rub, once again. People who design software and websites automatically assume the user knows how to “USE” it. I have bad news for you. They Don’t!

As I looked into the new timeline feature I realized this could be pretty scary. Now people will, not only be sharing their present, they will be sharing all the personal stories of the past, complete with pictures. As Mark said,” “It’s your whole life…it’s so simple.”

Think about where we have gone. We share our lives more than ever before. We post our comments and pictures on Facebook and Google Plus. We post our videos on You Tube. We put our profile on LinkedIn. We share more photos on Flickr and Photobucket. Our tweets tell people our intimate thoughts. Foursquare has turned telling people our every move into a game. With all the websites connecting to these social media sites we now share things like what Netflix movies we are watching. With Facebook we can even share an intimate timeline of how many hours we waste, playing simple arcade games or working on a virtual farm! We aren’t even going to touch the chain letters style posting!

It gets worse when people say the wrong thing or post an embarrassing photo! A crude joke or an angry rant about work among a few friends can be forgotten. But a post or video online can live forever! If you doubt me, then you have never seen your history pop up on Facebook, showing you what you said on that day last year. Better yet, ask the numerous stars of Youtube videos that make it on television shows. They will be immortalized in the painful stupid actions that they have shared online.

I was also stunned at the 200+ phone numbers and email my phone gets when I add Facebook to my contacts list. I have great friends on there. However I am also friends with people I have literally met twice. Some of those meetings were more than ten years ago. Do they realize they are giving a person that is practically a stranger, this information?

Quote from "Anonymized" data really isn't—and here's why not. on Ars Technica

We can all complain about our privacy being invaded and blame the companies that share it but we have all been complacent while we are directly advertised to on these social sites by the things we like. Who knew I had a passion for food or a craving for Star Wars? When did Game of Thrones become so popular that they were making joke shirts about it?

Facebook claims that they only share anonymous data and the advertisers and 3rd party companies do not have access to our information. We have seen the incidents of anonymous data being the exact opposite! If you haven’t read this. 

However, complaining is futile. We all use social networks, knowing full well what happens and many of us just gripe for the sake of having something to gripe about. Others just hate change but somehow still managed to stay with the technology evolving to the point it is now that they are complaining!

My friend Josh’s comment on Facebook pretty well sums that up. “some people are missing the point about this being a social networking site. Anyone who wants privacy should go to MySpace or better yet unplug from the Internet, cell network, credit cards, GPS, EZ-Pass, cable TV, WII, PlayStation, …….. and, oh yeah, FB is free. Really? really?” 

The bigger question is not what can be done about this because, regardless of the suprisingly mild outcry to this invasion of our privacy, it isn’t going to change.

The bigger question is actually, How is this affecting our society and lives?

I am going to do my old man, when I was your age shtick here so bare with me.

1) When I was young and my friends and I were hanging out, we were alone. We escaped in the woods and played. Our imagination was fueled by our surroundings as well as mix of the books we read and the movies we watched. We were away from our parents and siblings, having grand adventures. As we got older we would sneak out of the house at night and explore our neighborhood. We had no way of finding each other and communicating with our other friends, and therefor created a bond with each other without distraction.

2) When we would go on vacation, my mom always had a camera present, but that was it. Nothing else. When we were away, nobody could reach us. We were alone and enjoying each others company. We didn’t share our experiences with anyone until we got home.

3) When my friends went away to college, they lost contact with parents and friends. They matured as they had to make decisions on their own and made new friends and relationships as an individual.

4) When you applied for a job, your past was what you shared on your resume or your references. You would NEVER share your drunken parties or stupid antics with your prospective employees!

Today we see the social media from cell phones to Facebook changing every aspect of our lives.

1) Now kids are not only going out and playing less, they are in constant contact with friends and family. Their lives are shared with the world by their parents. Twenty minutes after my 3rd son was born he was on Facebook! That’s kind of crazy to think about in hindsight. Every day I see teens walking the streets texting each other and communicating with multiple people, instead of having an in depth conversation with the one or two people they are standing right next to.

2) My last camping excursion included the loves of my life. My wife, our three boys and my phone. The phone told me the weather, played music for us in our cabin and helped us find good places to eat in town. It identified the stars in the sky and gave us directions so we wouldn’t get lost. However, it was definitely a distraction. We didn’t wander into a restaurant on a whim and take a chance, we read a review.  We didn’t have to stop and ask directions, thus meeting the colorful characters in the town. We stayed close to the cabin when rain was forcast instead of adventuring out and getting caught in a storm.

3) College students today stay in contact with all of their high school friends instead of going out to make new ones. Their parents talk to them daily and many of them never explore the surrounding area, let alone the campus. That is of course, if they ever go away to school. Many of them are staying home and going to school online.

4) And think about job hunting today! Try to go to any reputable employer and apply without them doing a detailed search for you on social networks. It has affected everyone. I heard a great interview with Bryan Cranston once where he explained how IMDb has made applying for jobs difficult. When he started out he was an acting slut who would take any job he could get. When he applied somewhere else he would leave the embarrassing off his resume. Now, however……

So, where do we go from here. With this generation sharing everything online with everyone, what becomes indecent to discuss? What in life will be private and personal? Where do we go from here? What do my kids have to look forward to. Are we paving a path to Big Brother or are we truly becoming a community again where we all know our neighbors? Will they have more of a social life or less? Will they value their friends more than we did or not?

I propose this list to you, for your deepest paraniod fantasy about what should be shared online. I won’t link them together for you but, I would like you to try grabbing one or two of them and mixing them into one scenario, with the fact that your personal life history is online and coming up with a scenario.


IBM’s Watson

Advertising Algorithm

Cell Phone Tracker

Brain Hacking



Visually Recording Brain Activity 

Behavioral Analytics™

Want more spooky stuff to consider?

Are we doomed? Let me know what you think. Share your predictions of a dark future here!


2 thoughts on “Are We Sharing Too Much?

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