Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 7, 200911:56 PM

When You're Online Even When You're Not Online

If you never really took two seconds to think about privacy and what all of our lives now look like because of these online channels and platforms, here's a fictional story that may ring true for you...

Warren is the Vice President of marketing for a major corporation. He never cared much for online social networks. He joined Facebook to follow his kids, and LinkedIn because someone who worked on his team told him he should - at the very least - have his profile posted there. For the most part, he ignores the invitations, pokes and questions. For his professional development he recognizes the power in these channels, and is well-aware of their capabilities and how it is evolving his day-to-day business. That being said, he still doesn't get why everybody is so crazy over Twitter, even though a growing component of his business line is engaged in some level of customer care using Twitter. Warren would prefer that his professional (and private) life have limited exposure online.

You have to believe that most people are like this. You also have to believe that things are changing too fast for anyone to control the content that is out there and being published online.

It's 4:00 pm on a Tuesday, and Warren gets a call from an old college friend who happens to be in town with a set of great seats to the baseball game. Warren had already committed to another business function, but figured there would be no harm in blowing it off to hang with an old friend. On the way to his seats, he runs into a client and they have a casual chat. The next day at work, Warren's boss comes into his office and asks how he is feeling. Before Warren can respond, his boss asks, "how was the baseball game?"

Without thinking he was doing anything wrong, Warren's client tweeted about how happy he was to run into Warren at the baseball game.

These types of incidents are happening more and more with every passing day and as these platforms become more ubiquitous and easier to use. The point of this Blog post was to highlight that while we're all paying attention to what we post (and how we post it), we can't control what others are doing. We all can't walk around with signs around our necks saying, "this in-person experience is not for Blogs, Facebook or Twitter unless we both agree otherwise." And, as funny as that may sound, we are getting closer to a point in time, where everything that we do in public is going to be recorded and published. We might be needing those signs sooner than we think.

Privacy is scary when you can't control your own online persona.

Whether it's skipping work to grab a flick with friends, or being seen at a party when you told people you would be somewhere else, all of us are going to have to be more self-aware of this shift and change. We're all getting to the point where there may need to be some kind of law or agreement as to what, exactly, is publishable about our lives. For more on this, just take a read through some of the sentiments about Google Maps and their plans for street views.

Privacy has always been a huge concern to Marketers and people publishing content online. There may be a bigger question around what we can all do in a world where even if you're not active and online, everything you are doing is online and highly searchable through the stories and publishing of others.

Does that scare you?

By Mitch Joel