Are you concerned about privacy on Facebook and other social media sites? Are you concerned with privacy online in general? Why, what big commercial secret projects are you handling? What’s the big deal?
As we think about that, we might come to a realization that the big deal is US. It’s our inner voice, our inner thoughts and attitudes, that we do NOT want the whole world to know about. Or, at least, we don’t want our Bosses and maybe one or two co-workers to know about, is it not? All this fuss about our personal data being “screened” so that targeted ads can be sent to us is really a big smokescreen, isn’t it? Of course Facebook collects and uses data. So does Google. So do all of us. Facebook and Google just happen to do it on a much larger scale and in a much more systematic manner. Having been schooled the way most of us have been, we tend to make a little bit of noise when we feel exposed, when we feel naked in a certain way, and we make feeble attempts at covering our nakedness. Most of the time, we moan and grumble, and we will only take action when someone else comes along and goads us into taking action. Once that happens, we are swept along because precious few of us actually know the basic reasons why we have joined any particular movement in the first place. Mostly, it’s fun, at least initially. It feels good, and everybody’s involved, so it’s popular and it’s safe. And so we join in. Never mind if it descends into anarchy, everyone’s doing it.
There is a much better way of handling privacy matters online. That is to be totally transparent. When we are totally transparent, there would not be any privacy issues to be concerned about. In simple terms, this means that, when we are tempted to say bad things about our Boss online, we ought to stop it, take a minute to reflect on why we feel that way, ask ourselves what our responsibilities are in the matter, and go to our Boss and resolve the issue. When we have done that in all genuine sincerity and truthfulness, and the Boss remains intractable, then we either learn patience or go look for employment elsewhere if there is no recourse to a higher authority.
Being transparent also means that we continuously learn to make ourselves better every day. Sure, we all have faults, and we need to focus, not on our faults, but on how we can grow in our strengths. For instance, I have the bad habit of getting irritated with others when I observe them behaving in ways that are unbecoming. I dislike it intensely when people talk airily about settling important issues, but take no real action to resolve them. I need to practise engaging people like that more patiently. Of course, if dysfunctional behaviours persist, then there comes a time when we must end dysfunctional relationships. For me, that generally needs to take place later rather than sooner. I have to keep in check my tendencies to mow down people when they irritate me, and use those occasions as mirrors to check myself on where else I need to grow.
So, be genuine! Be transparent because you’re genuine! Acknowledge faults and do something about them! Get an accountability partner or two to help you! Make friends with your Boss and co-workers! When that happens, you need not worry about online privacy issues. They will take care of themselves.