Imagine if privacy was dead. You know, like absolutely nothing was private. As I see it, we don’t really have to imagine it. Here is newsworthy support of this premise from the past few weeks:
To further prove the point, each of these stories are archived for our viewing for…well, presumably forever! Privacy is dead. We just don’t live and act like it yet.
As a futurist, I work to identify trends which could significantly change our lives and our organizations. About four years ago I first saw the term “Death of Privacy” on a trend-map. The concept resonated deeply with me, not because I liked it, but because it seemed to be true. As time progresses, I see this trend continuing to grow in significance and impact.
As a reader, you may be asking, “So What!?” Here are five implications of the death of privacy in our personal and organizational lives.
1. The rise of going dark. Traditionally, going dark refers to unplugging from our electronic addictions. In the future going dark will be a means for us to engage in life without fear of being tracked. How will your workplace change if people believe that they are only free off-the-grid?
2. ‘Free’ will become increasingly costly. We live in a time of free apps and software. However, we are learning that ‘nothing-free-is-free’ as these programs monitor our habits and sell our data. As a result, watch for a movement of people being willing to pay (perhaps pay a premium), for products and services that provide assurances of privacy.
3. Privacy and secrecy will become synonyms. A Google search provides us with robust information about most people we want to know more about. In an open information society, those who become adept at keeping their lives private will be viewed with suspicion.
4. A new multiple personality disorder. Have you ever joked about that person on Facebook that has a life that is too good to be true? We can create on-line identities which are different than our real selves. As we adapt to a lack of privacy, we will spend increasing amounts of time curating our on-line personas. As a result, expect there to be confusion between Avatar-Joe and Real-Life-Joe.
5. Insert your insight here. I invite you to add your own ideas in the comment box below!
At this point, it is tempting to rant about living a life without a modicum of privacy. However, I prefer to focus on things that I can change and I know I cannot change the diminishing nature of privacy. Instead, thoughtful readers will identify what they can do. For example, why don’t we require job applicants to submit their social profiles instead of sneaking around their backs and looking at their Facebook pages. We could proactively teach staff how to create healthy digital profiles which would benefit both themselves and their organization. Or we could educate our children about integrity so they understand that having separate private lives and public lives is a myth.
Privacy is dead. However, life after privacy is not.
Thanks to the following author for his thoughtful insights about the death of privacy which influenced this article.
Preston, A. (August 2, 2014). The death of privacy. The Guardian/The Observer. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/03/internet-death-privacy-google-facebook-alex-preston