Barack Obama said in a press conference about PRISM that we “can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy, and also zero inconvenience.” In some ways, that kinda makes sense — we know that we can’t expect absolute privacy if we engage in, and even desire our own information plastered over, our social networks — but we also think that we should still get the final say over what gets turned into full-blown public information.
There’s a bit of a problem with that expectation, though; with more and more migrating each day to the digital, our lives are becoming much more traceable — whether or not we like to think about it or admit it. Basically: if you put yourself out there in a place where everything gets recorded permanently, you’re going to stay out there permanently in some way, shape, or form. No matter what kind of rules or legislation we come up with to hide that fact, the reality is it’s as simple as that.
So, while we certainly seem to act as if there’s some kind of “division” that still remains between our Facebook pages and the “real world,” the reality is actually quite the opposite. It’s arguable that there really is no such thing as privacy on the Internet, since the Internet was created to be a sharing, public place.
So what do we do when it comes to our privacy? Do we sacrifice the convenience of all these great new platforms and technologies just to preserve our privacy? Do we give up our privacy so that things are openly traced for the sake of security? Where’s the middle ground in all this, and why haven’t we found it?
Whatever the middle ground is, it seems more and more that we’re at a turning point in the progression of social interaction. No group of people has ever before been able to communicate without any real restrictions; time, space, and language barriers have all been removed in the Internet, and that’s an amazing, incredible thing, but now we’re confused about how to get some of those barriers back.
Ultimately, the one reliable standby is learning to live by the old adage “He who has nothing to hide hides nothing” — either that, or getting off the Internet.