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I have recently observed a number of notes written by fellow Facebookers in which they describe, in varying levels of detail, "romantic relationships" which they allegedly have had with other friends on Facebook. The underlying motive in most of these "notes" would seem to be taking revenge once the relationship has gone sour. But the peculiar thing is this. None of these notes goes so far as to mention the actual name of the other party "involved". Instead, the plaintiff lays out sufficient personal details as to expose the alleged "perpetrator" before other fellow Facebook friends or acquaintances. I say "perpetrator" because this is how the "person" is described. A savage inconsiderate beast. Of course, none of these adjectives had been used when the relationship was good and running. But the trick is, once they break up, the one who starts to publicize this corners the "defendant" who in fact is bullied into silence. To avoid a scandal, the "defendant" would refrain from making a comment so that he or she does not directly commit to being a party to the broken affair and the recipient of the generously designated infamous adjectives of evil. The harm, nevertheless, is done, and the "defendant's" reputation is tarnished. He or she can never tell his or her side of the story. Yet, they stand in fact victims of a one-sided virtual trial whose sentence they cannot appeal. This can be very traumatic, although the truth of the matter is, those who know you enough to matter won't believe the lies told about you and those who would believe such lies don't really matter.

For the past decade and a half, we have managed to live by while our names, photos, news, personal data and private stuff was being violated. We survived this "invasion" of our privacy. But for relationships, romances, affairs and break-ups to publicly go online, this marks the end of privacy. I do not see this phenomenon as a new trend in romantic relationships. I see this as an announcement for the death of privacy or what remained of it. The frightening penetration of Facebook, My-space, Twitter and other virtual social communities adds a lot of leverage to this loss of privacy. What you say or write in confidence to someone, can possibly be advertised by that person or worse, by a hacker, and exposed to the whole 200 million users of Facebook or the 1 billion users of the Internet! Unlike older chat communities, such as "Yahoo Chat" where everyone was using some screen name or a handle which protected their real identities, Facebook came with a new concept: no face, no book, so you either shared your real name, photo and personal details or no one would feel comfortable enough to "add" you as a friend.

It is like this giant nude beach party where the only condition to being invited is to show up naked yourself!

It worked. People just put their real names and photos online and stepped into the global village, where anyone can know everything about anyone else.

We got so absorbed -- in fact, sucked into -- this virtual universe that many of us would update our "statuses" several times a day using our mobile phones, to tell the rest of the world what we were up to, where we were and how we felt. We shared our photos, photos of our children and loved ones, with the entire Internet-using world. Anyone now can know our birth date, our entire education and job history, music and movies we like, even watch our friends' photos and learn their hobbies.

We live our lives naked. Why do we do that? Is it because we are exhibitionist by nature and have been just waiting all along for the chance to be ourselves? Is it because we are narcissist and ego-centered at the core and these web-based bars merely empowered us to have our daily, or even hourly fix? Are we just lonely and we are trying to find someone, anyone, to communicate with? Are we just randomly tossing away bottles into the deep wide ocean and hoping that someone somewhere will read the message, possibly like what is there enough to get back to us, even befriend us for whom we are?

This desperate and random exchange of billions of message-carrying-bottles every day, however, has come at the cost of our own privacy. Some would argue, what is the value of privacy if there is nothing happening in our lives in the first place? Nothing interesting, exotic and out of the ordinary, that is. So, we trade privacy for communication and potential action.

Should we just share our lives on the screen with whoever cares to watch in a giant random Truman Show where everyone basically knows that they are being watched? Should we mourn our privacy or celebrate our new friends? Should we guard our secrets or snoop into those of everyone else so that we are all equally exposed! Is privacy over-rated? Does the apparent loss of privacy make us behave in a better way? Become better netizens, since everything we say or do can be found out, reported and publicized for and or against us? Isn't this "familiarity" what enforced a certain behavioral code in little villages where everyone knew everyone else? A code which was less observed in the city where people could go wild anonymously?

On the other hand, isn't our privacy what makes us unique? Makes us who we are? I mean, if we feel watched all the time by some "collective Big Brother", wouldn't we just think and behave as we are "expected to"? Would we try to become who we should be rather who we really are? Would we just lose our uniqueness, innocence, spontaneity, innovation and become copies of the same "standard and approved person"?

For some reason, somehow, I do mourn privacy and regret its death. The death of a world where you could one day, not too long ago, think loudly sometimes, without finding your thoughts played on YouTube the next day.




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Comments

The following comments are for "Facebook Blues and the Death of Privacy"
by waelnawara

Brave New World...
It started with the net...then came myspace, then facebook, then twitter...life as we knew it will never be the same again. Welcome to a new age of information/friendship/networking like never before. It is not going away. It will only grow and grow and become even more intrusive and NAKED (as you call it)

It is a marketing/advertisers info collecting lists dream come true. It is the big brother of governement/police/media info gathering come true.

Next, coming big in my prediction is the down-loader books, and traditional publishing houses will become as formulated and afraid to take chances on printed real life as has Hollywood with making remake of remakes and not taking chances on non formula, etc.

Yep, 1984 (in 2009) and Brave New World is here, only it is not a big TV screen in the living room that we live by (though that is there too) it is the bright screen of the laptop and desktop beckoning to us...the whole world and all it's inhabitants are but a keystroke away, and global is the name of the end of what was once known as privacy.

Very good article, loved reading it. Thanks for sharing this;-)

Tashi Delek!
Karma

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: September 15, 2009 )

1984 in 2009
Hi Lena !

Hello Hello :)

Good to hear from you my friend and thank you for your comments, insights and generous vote :)

Indeed -- these monstrous Online Bars are only growing --- so, there is not going back any time soon.

Thanks and Take care my friend :)

( Posted by: waelnawara [Member] On: September 16, 2009 )

Private no more
Ahhh, I remember the first time I went into a chat room. I met a beautiful girl, (she had a very pretty font so she must have been beautiful) named Sweet_Destiny1 and it was love at first type. I was the mighty lestat92055 and we hit it off instantly. We finally met in real life dated for a while then she turned out to be a lunatic that was just looking for a fling with a younger guy (I was 18 and she was in her mid 20's) before she settled down with her real man. *Dreamy look in my eyes* Ahh, young love. At least there was no way for her to blast me all over the internet at the time.

This was something that everyone was thinking but didn't want to say. Like perhaps saying it out loud would make it real. Kudos for writing it.

Much Love,

Dave

( Posted by: HeRoCoMpLeX [Member] On: September 16, 2009 )

I do remember
Yes - who can forget YAHOO Chat when it came out with all the newly discovered and Cyber activities it was like magic - cyreal to be exact. And you put it well - we used to imagine how a person was like from the way they typed!

Thanks for your comments :)

( Posted by: waelnawara [Member] On: September 16, 2009 )

Yeah, Facebook me too...
Yeah, facebook me too, look for Karma Tsering Lhamo, I run the Lit.Org site there for Stuart and I have my own personal site as well. Keep on writing here though, you have been missed...your work has always been on my list of favorites every since I first read you.

Blessings,
Karma

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: September 16, 2009 )

Added you on Facebook
Thank you so much Lena - you have always been very supportive and kind - I enjoy reading you too ...

I added you on Facebook - ...

Best Regards

W

( Posted by: waelnawara [Member] On: September 17, 2009 )

Privacy
I spent most of my life being a public person, in the sense that I am a singer/musician/artist and sought a level of recognition in those arenas. The net has forced any person who wants to promote their work into the muck and mire that is the web today. You're spot on in writing that we can't choose what we want people to know these days. One could plan brilliantly a strategy that reveals just those things connected to their art or offering and all those interested others, friend or foe, then start to add all they know, or make up, and share it with the world. And to top that, it seems, that today the more notoriety the better. Controversy sells. Ms. Spear's publicly shown vagina made her more famous than she was prior and she and her label probably cashed in by selling more records and garnering more awards. The movie studios used to pay out a fortune to hide an actors gayness or the party actions of their starlets - now the raunchier the web-gossip the better - to the point that one wonders if much of it fabricated. The idea of having a good name is passe' - it is now acceptable to sell it to the highest bidder.The lower your lifestyle the more fame you acquire. Not being talked about has become unacceptable and deemed a failed life.Yikes!
The web is an amazing tool and we can reach more people than we could have ever imagined, but it also promotes the worst in us and calls it freedom of expression. It is a marvelous tool with some very bad elements being used by very bad elements. The days of choosing who we wanted to associate with has long gone. The next twenty years may find that we won't be using the hardware we now use - perhaps just a device that sticks in your ear and plugs right into your cerebral cortex - phone - music - entertainment- instant gossip - work - all just by thinking what task we do next. I could write a poem and instantly every person in the world would vote and the result would tell me I would be better suited being a pig farmer - not that being a pig farmer is in any way an unworthy profession. ;)
Nicely done. Another well written piece. Glad to read you again - I missed you.

PS. Alas, even I am on Facebook!

( Posted by: jonpenny [Member] On: September 17, 2009 )

Facebook...and LitDotOrg, etc.
Thanks for adding me, we have a Lit.Org Facebook site too to plug the site, and for our writers to come and plug themselves via social networking too. Stuart asked that I do it, but I am a computer dunce, so I had to get some help from family to get it done...It is simply called "LitDotOrg - Karma Tsering Lhamo", which is separate as I said from my private site on Facebook simply called Karma Tsering Lhamo. I finally added pics to it of my lama, and of my family, just like I have on Myspace.com, just not as many pics.

So, come one come all join the social networking bandwagon near you on the net, join Twitter, LitDotOrg is on Twitter, Myspace.com and Facebook....

Plug it, dig it, read, write and respond!
LitDotOrg and all its many talented writers totally RULE;-)

Blessings,
Karma

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: September 17, 2009 )

Facebook
"I'll make the supper market tabloids, they'll write some awful stuff, but the more they run my name down, the more my price goes up!"

"Celebrity" Brad Paisley

( Posted by: HeRoCoMpLeX [Member] On: September 18, 2009 )

*sigh of relief*
I am so happy that I wasn't born with the name Brad Paisley.

( Posted by: thetesticularprancer [Member] On: September 18, 2009 )

*sighing too*
Fucking A....ah, I mean, Halleluiah!

( Posted by: HeRoCoMpLeX [Member] On: September 19, 2009 )

Facebook Blues
I am on it, I freely admit. I appreciate your reference to voyaurism and to those who like the limelight at any cost. I feel that my range of friends is so diverse that I err on the side of caution so as not to offend those who would be astonished or pained by needless self-exposure. Its enough, I think cyberspace has already invaded us uninvited in the form of Zaba Searches, spam and other infiltrations of privacy. For myself there is a need for communication which isn't really intimate which is really a sham, I regret. Anyway, thanks for the insight. What a tool for abuse the computer has become.

( Posted by: EchoMarm [Member] On: September 25, 2009 )





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