Do you remember years ago when people didn’t want to upload pictures of their kids online and then they started doing it? I bet you do.
When it comes to privacy, you just have to start asking this same question with lots of things you do on a regular basis. Just take a second and fill the gap below with any example:
Do you remember years ago when people didn’t want to ______ and then they started doing it?
As more of these gaps fill up, privacy will (is) slowly fade away. So, the question to ask here is: Why do so few people truly care about their privacy?
At a first glance it comes down to:
- Unconsciousness. People don’t know what happens with their data.
- Social approval. Since everybody seems to be okay with opening their data, everything is fine.
If people were conscious about what actually happens with their data, we’d be having a complete different conversation. However, the truth is, when you have any sort of membership card, they end up selling your data to third parties. When you pay with your credit card, you’re giving away a lot of information to the bank. Or consider when you use a public wifi network, which apparently is free… But you give away access to a lot of data your phone compiles. And let’s not talk about social networks or messaging apps.
Most people are not aware of this. And even if they were, what in a different context would seem catastrophic, in this one it’s the norm.
What actually happens to privacy?
Over time I’ve discovered it has nothing to do with awareness—partly—but with social approval.
Welcome to The Privacy-free Nation!
In The Privacy-free Nation, this openness of privacy is due to a critical understanding of psychology. These companies gathering data know that people look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their own. So if being open and giving away your data is seen as socially approved, then there’s nothing to discuss here.
The problem is bigger than we think, though. Just like over time uploading pictures of kids has been socially approved, those kids will grow up in this scenario where it’s okay to be open with data. New generations won’t have concerns about this issue anymore—they’ll grow up seeing this as the norm.
In the end, it’s all about worldviews. And if we don’t want to end up in Privacy-free Nation, changing people’s worldviews is critical. The first step is to make sure people are aware of: (1) Which data are companies taking from them, and (2) How data is used and the impact it has on people. Then, and only then, we can start turning things into the right direction.
You can care about privacy, but it’s only at the early stages (yes, it’s early right now—what’s coming is far more scarier) where we can change things. Once big powerful players kick in, there won’t be much of a choice.
The future is not already defined—we get to make it happen. And since it’s up to us, we better make it right.