Do you remember phonebooks?
The paper kind. Huge thick books that got delivered to your house every year containing the names, addresses and landline numbers to everyone you ever knew.
Conveniently sorted village by village so that you could know pretty much everyone in your neighborhood without ever meeting them. And everyone was fine with that.
Can you even imagine?
These days our privacy is such a thing. And that in a world that is ever increasingly designed for access. Everyone is tracking everything everywhere and even though this has been a thing ever since we evolved past using grunts as name indicators…suddenly we’re becoming more and more aware AND consequently…bothered…about people knowing our business.
I am one of these people. Sort of. In waves.
There’s times I suddenly get worried about my visibility and online footprint. Usually after run-ins with creepy stalkery dudes online. Or unwanted exes on the approach. Or that-one-guy-from-that-one-time that randomly checks in via social media every 6 months like clockwork. Options aplenty. Because with all of the increased access – folk get more and more creative in ‘finding’ entry points as well. Comes with the territory.
So, as I’ve bragged before, I go on an online cleanse every couple of months. Clean up timelines to the very few socials I upkeep. Sweep through followers list to pluck out unwanted viewers. Incognito Google myself and then work on getting entries removed that feature my way-too-unique name. Things like that.
This time round I went a bit further, even. Locking up public profiles for Facebook and LinkedIn. Removing location data everywhere that’s possible. Archiving old posts and profile pics and switching up profile tags to unrecognizables. Which, obviously, in no way makes me impossible to find. But a lot harder, at the very least.
So that you KNOW that the people that do still end up finding and contacting you have gone through creepy amounts of work to do so. A red flag that’s always convenient when building up court cases, ya know? Just saying.
Anonymity is only relative. We all approach it differently, in vastly varying amounts of paranoia. I have friends who use and abuse every social media option out there, fully visible, with as much tmi details as any soul could handle. Not a care in the world. While loverboy doesn’t even HAVE (actual) social media accounts for instance (IKR – am I even IN a relationship if I can’t go Facebook official). Fully invisible in all the ways that matter. I couldn’t even virtually stalk him before our first date (not that I tried, though). I’m somewhere in the middle when it comds to the privacy war.
And though the things that bother us now definitely validly bother us…it’s actually wild that they do…considering where we are coming from. It’s like we never really ‘saw’ how seen we used to be. By the government. Companies. Schools and neighbors.
I still remember my parents getting personalized mailcatalogs and offers from parties they’d never heard of. All of them with free access to mailboxes and phone numbers. I still remember in the early hotmail days how my inbox was free-for-all for all of the spam in the world. 100s of mails a week. Now most of em don’t get past the spamfilters.
We feel so much like our privacy is up for grabs, out in the open and constantly violated. Which it is. Totally.
That’s all just relative.
Although truthfully…I’m just really glad to have grown up only on the border of an era that sees all of our embarrassing moments, stupid phases and horrible style choices recorded, posted and going viral to haunt us forever and live on the world wide web for a lot longer still….(instead of just ending up as a single photo in a never opened album in the attic).
But in the meantime – I’ll just do my regular online detox and hope I never end up in one of those online horror stories. Fingers crossed!