The problem is that social media has no concept of privacy. If the couple were arguing in public, anyone may record and snigger at it. But this is to confuse public space with social space, for social media makes everything “social”. That’s how it works. “Social” is, as Biz Stone, founder of Twitter, said, “the killer app of the 21st century”. Sharing is the new religion. And some of that sharing may well be not very nice. Much online abuse, for instance, would not occur face to face in public.
Andrew Keen’s new book, Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution is Dividing, Diminishing and Disorientating Us, asks some awkward, important questions. If we live online and everything is “social”, what is outside it? What is privacy? The move from a platform for data to a platform for real people is huge business. Freedom of expression boosted by entrepreneurial libertarians may have its cost. Keen talks of Michel Foucault’s theory of the Panopticon, the late 18th-century model of building prisons so that all inmates are visible in separate rooms but, feeling watched, police themselves; it’s “the trap of visibility”, as Foucault called it. In the same way, the internet appears transparent, yet is monitored and mined for data; we are all potential consumers.” —
That book needs to go on my vacation reading list … As for oversharing, I don’t think social media are really to blame, although they may make oversharing simpler than ever. No, some people just have no concept of privacy and they’ll share the most intimate parts of their lives (and those lives they come into contact with); it’s just that social media are HUGE enablers.