Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where are you now?

I recently received an invitation from someone I have never met to join the social networking site WAYN, an acronym for “Where Are You Now?”

My first response is, “Who wants to know?” Next, “Who cares?”

WAYN wants to know where I am now. Foursquare wants me to check in on my mobile phone wherever I go. And Facebook wants to know my status. 

The very essence of social networking websites is to share with friends what you’re doing, watching, reading, listening to, photographing, buying, thinking, planning. Most of these friends you may never even have met face to face or not seen in years. And there are many, many flavors of social sites, just check the growing list on Wikipedia.

Yet as a nation, we are so worried about privacy that we enact the U.S. HIPAA Privacy Rule, unleashing a bureaucracy of forms to sign, virtually unread, at every medical office you visit. Thanks to HIPAA, the nursing home could only tell me an aunt’s “status had changed” instead of informing me she had passed away in her sleep. At least her privacy was safe, while I drove like a madwoman to see if I could reach her bedside in time.

Yet we have IDs and passwords and security questions and special images for dozens of websites where we conduct business, because transactions contain sensitive information we never want to share. Too bad hackers are finding ever more insidious ways to break through these barriers.

Yet our cable provider now offers a comprehensive home security system so we can watch streaming video of our home when we’re away from home and even get text and email alerts when someone comes in the door or the system is armed or disarmed.That's how closely we could be watching our home for intruders...or our family members.

And yet…and yet…we willingly give away to the world who we are, where we are, what we’re doing, both in word and visuals. So much for personal privacy.

I guess freedom really is just another word for nothing left to lose.

P.S: In the interest of full disclosure, you can follow me on this blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, or About.me.  ;-)

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