Phone-hacking and our own social-obsess

8 Jul

One of the JJ team ponders a future embedded in Social Media

Recently my teenage nephews have started asking me what life was like when I was their age, or rather, “in the olden days”. I’m sure to them I’m ancient but the late 1980s could hardly be described as the Victorian era. But then again, in terms of technology, I may as well have been doing detention with Thomas Edison and Alan Turing.

They laugh when I recount the endless rows with my parents, their grandparents, when I wanted to use the house telephone (yes, a communal phone for all the family that wasn’t portable! Imagine) to call my schoolfriends. “Why do you want to talk to them, you’ve only just seen them,” my father would ask.

So, I look on with envy at schoolkids now who can communicate with their mates 24/7 on their mobiles, social media and computers. I understand their need to chat, post up funny photos and share jokes. But it struck me at a work presentation the other day about Facebook Places and how it could be used at big events to drive people to certain content that we are in danger of becoming the most self-obsessed society in history.

 As far as I can see the only point of Facebook Places is to brag to your mates that you’re standing in front of Tinchy Stryder at a festival. End of. Firstly you can do it on Twitter, text, your own Facebook page etc  so why sign up for yet another service. But also, why are we so obsessed with telling all our friends – and actually anyone else – what we’re up to?

Why are we so willing to give away our privacy and delude ourselves that we are all so very interesting and important?

The issue of privacy is the only topic in town currently; whether you are a footballer trying to gag the media or a journalist hacking into ordinary people’s mobile phones – the issue raises frightening question for the digital age.

While we are naturally outraged at revelations of rogue investigators allegedly hacking into the mobile phones of victims of crime, we are also more than happy to expose ourselves to the world.

The so-called showbiz lifestyle is now more attainable than it has ever been. Want to hire a limo? No problem. Want to wear designer gear then pop along to TK Maxx. Want a boob job? Get a bank loan.

Social media is empowering us in a small way to achieve the sense that we’re all somehow important. We tweet everything about what we’re doing, we no longer have to send postcards on holidays as we can upload photos (digitally enhanced of course) while we’re there and brag if we’ve managed to get a freebie to a gig – just like the rich and famous.

We readily post up videos and photos of ourselves at parties doing crazy things as if we were somehow in a DIY Heat magazine where we are the star.

But will it one day come back to haunt us when the party’s over?

I was talking to a colleague the other day and she recounted how she and her husband had gone to a fancy dress party (she was dressed as some historical monarch’s tart – all hair and cleavage). She was horrified to find pictures from the party on a friend’s Facebook page and duly asked for them to be removed. Her friend was not impressed.

Why have we started to devalue our privacy? The rich and famous spend a small fortune protecting theirs while the rest of us give it away so freely.

Mobile phone messages should always remain private, hacking is legally and morally wrong and what Milly Dowler’s family has been through is abhorrent, but every minute of every day each of us willingly continue to give away private information online and on mobile.

When we get that dream job, or meet that dream partner are we really going to want to see these photos of us drunk in a puddle of vomit resurface?

By the time my nephews are my age I wonder if the tide will have turned and they’ll be spending a small fortune in clawing back their privacy with the use of data retrieval firms. But will it be too late?

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