We are digital exhibitionists, a society crazed with placing bits and pieces of our personal lives online for all and sundry to indulge in, chasing the fickle like, thumbs up or re-tweet. The global platforms on which we share our intimate selves are loving it, more fodder for their advertising cash cows and investor decks that allow them to close on more capital to build more hooks into our lives, the hockey stick graphs oversubscribing the funding rounds.
And I get it, as a technology entrepreneur, it is music to my ears when the system monitors fire off an automated email announcing that we have hit yet another milestone and added another hundred thousand odd users, especially so if the monetization has been figured out. We build and continue to build atop of these massive social platforms and welcome new players who will ride the artificial and cognitive intelligence plus big data train to really blur the lines when it comes to having our noses in each other’s business.
What I do not get is the aversion to having the same manifest at a local level used to create services that would probably add a lot more value to our lives than we get from blind sharing online. I guess the feeling of distance is what numbs our senses, that Facebook, Google, Snap Chat and whatever it is millennials are on now are run and operated from distance shores with a browser or app as the only connection to them.
If anyone apart from the government would hold the cumulative data on citizen habits, spending, emotions, movements and degrees of separation, the August House would be full of sponsored bills looking to clip the wings of any such firm or consortia. The reality is that this future is coming, where we will see such corporate entities emerge to stitch the fabric of our personas from the little threads that we leave all over the place both online and offline.
I have argued on both sides of the privacy divide and know that fear is real and that invasion of privacy is a thing. Is it invasion when we publicly shared the same and someone or some bot inferred certain outcomes and insights?
Let us take a minute and come to terms with where we are headed, what it means to be digital first, what it means to be always on and what are the consequences – intended or accidental. Privacy as a concept can remain on the table for discourse but can never be realized in its true sense, especially so because we cannot press the large red reset button and rollback to the unconnected days.