Social Media: The Death of Privacy

January 6, 2013
Social media is one fad that has enveloped the American masses to the point of asphyxiation. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, the list goes on and on. Today, you can approach the eldest person in sight and they will likely be able to name one of these sites for you. In the words of Pete Cashmore, “Privacy is dead, and social media holds the smoking gun.” As CEO of Mashable Inc., an online news site that brags of its own vast number of followers, one might find it strange for Cashmore to denigrate social media. Especially since the majority of Mashable’s news reports are focused on the various social networks. But is Cashmore’s criticism really unfair? Is there not truth to his statement that social media holds the metaphoric gun that rid us of our beloved privacy? If any social media member were to be honest with himself, he would realize that social media has taken away any remnants of privacy we once had because we use these sites to present pieces of ourselves we never would in person.

Today, one online blog claims, over 350 million people suffer from “Facebook addiction syndrome.” With the skyrocketing popularity of social media, it’s no surprise more websites are arising to comment on the topic. Notice I say websites. People are starting websites to comment on other websites. It’s a miracle anyone leaves their houses anymore. Yet people go to school and work, where computers prohibit such sites as YouTube and Twitter. How does one stand to be without access to their precious profiles for such an extended period of time? Oh that’s right, they don’t have to… a round of applause for the Smartphone.
Now, as never before, we have computers in our pockets, glued to our person, so we will never again have to leave those pressing notifications unanswered. People are loading up on friends and followers, likes and hearts. Another blog surveys that over 25% of social media users turn off privacy settings in hopes of collecting a larger group of online comrades- a countless number of my friends included.

Of course, these friends are the very ones that shoo their mothers away when asked how the party was. These friends are the very ones that beg for a lock on their bedroom doors because “everyone in this family is too nosy.” If this idea of privacy is as coveted as the red crayon amongst kindergarteners, then why is that these friends approach me in the mornings with an “epic story I really do need to hear” that I have already heard. “I know,” I tell them, “I saw your status.” “I saw,” I tell them, “I saw your pictures.” Many of the stories are about boys, the ones that exude charm over iChat or text, yet walk with their heads down past girls in school. All too often the stories are of people who “are not as they seemed online.” Now we’re left without our own privacy and with false truths about other members of these social networks.
Like Cashmore, many believe these networks are the reason we’ve lost our sense of solitude. It can be argued that, had these websites never been created, had Mark Zuckerburg gone through the average motions at Harvard University, we wouldn’t be contemplating whether or not to select a privacy setting. Without the invention of these social networks, there would be no debate over who killed our prized privacy- we would still have it. But in truth, are these networks really to blame? Cashmore places that gun in the hand of social media, but is its rightful place in the hand of the media users? We have chosen to utilize social networks to the excessive extent that we do. We are the ones that get separation anxiety from our Smartphones and die without Internet access. All too often we are the ones that post statuses and pictures of things we wouldn’t have the intrepidity to present to someone in person. In this respect, we are the ones that have purged ourselves of our privacy.

All things considered, we don’t have the privacy we used to. Everyday, more people signup for social media websites. Likewise, more people reveal things about themselves they never would if not given the blank canvas of social networks to splash the paint of their personal lives onto. The things people share are not only unnecessary, but overly intimate. From breakfast to breakups, each day is documented through at least one of the networks streaming at our fingertips. Pete Cashmore had it right; social media holds the smoking gun that killed privacy. But Cashmore neglected to mention something equally important: Social media holds the gun, but we pulled the trigger.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Kurtis34 said...
Jan. 9, 2013 at 7:48 am
I think so too
LinkinPark12 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 8, 2013 at 12:27 pm
This is a really thought-provoking article and very interesting to hear all the facts. I especially like the analogy (or however you spell it!) at the end. But the internet has become part of everyone's daily life, including social media websites. It's true, I got so addicted to Facebook and Twitter, I decided to deactivate them both. It has definitely paid off! I've become more sociable - face-to-face sociable - although I still text my friends when I feel bored. Just thought I sh... (more »)
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