More thoughts and reflections on the digital realm from Paul Levy, founder of CATS3000 and Rational Madness. First posted under The Death of Privacy at Digital Inferno.
This is about being more conscious with privacy. The problem of social media platforms with their default “public” settings and their clever terms and conditions that few of us understand, is that they are clumsy and fairly insensitive.
It is possible to customise our online experience to be private, but it has been designed to be tiring and difficult, and also it is marketed as “uncool”. The corporation is actually highly emotionally intelligent and designs virtual experiences that tap deeply into what motivates us, boosts our self-esteem and meets our need for belonging and connection. They address our insecurities with consummate skill. Yet, as with many businesses, they also have some significant and subtle blind spots (whether that ignorance is accidental or a choice is down to conspiracy theories). Privacy is contingent, not generic.
At critical moments in our lives we need to be able to withdraw completely, for a few moments, for a few years. We need to be able to burn a picture. We need to be able to say “not your business.” We need to be able to say “I’m not telling” or “I want to take that back”. This is how we finesse our story, a story in which we need to be the core author. If you want to give up the main editorial role in your life story, then this will mean little to you or will irritate you. If you feel that your story is your story and that the world’s story will be enriched by you holding onto your own pen when you choose to, then you might need to retake some conscious control over what you keep sacred and secret, and what you decide to share.
Pictures created through collaboration and community can be awe-inspiring and there can be a synergy created from the group and not just the individuals. I’m happy when that is driven by a consciously willed motive of creativity, and not a motive of commercial advert-selling. But also the many and diverse contributions of each of us is also part of the rich picture of our world. Rudolf Steiner said that each human being is a unique species of one. If you agree with that, your own particular recipe might need the lid kept on your pot as you cook! You’ll contribute to the recipe book of life but with your recipes in there too.
Conscious privacy strengthens your will power by improving the way you value yourself. It helps you regain the sense of sacredness and unique value you have. Claiming privacy can be a gesture of self-worth.
By not putting everything on view, you do not deny the world, you deny the corporation. By choosing consciously in the moment with your own will what you share and don’t share, actually is a gesture of value to, and faith in the world. Our public “virtual” spaces become less cluttered, simpler, cleaner, and we can start to see each other as we really are, in terms of our essence, not in terms of our mess. Instead of filling up an infinitely expanding attic, you start to help tend the garden.
Privacy divides us from each other. Conscious privacy connects in ways that Mark Zuckerberg can’t imagine. For then we connect out of a sense of uniqueness and importance for each other, renewed in each moment of sharing. This comes from connecting soul to soul, not via fingertips.
Privacy is going to be the new gold. PL
Image credit: Inferno by *MD-Arts