What if I told you, 20 years ago, that I was going to build a database that contained every single detail of peoples lives; from their name, to their age, to their address. From their place of business, to their friends, neighbors, family, and acquaintances. It would have personal photographs, maps of their daily routes, the places they frequent and play, their favorite restaurants and coffee houses, movies, music, books, and TV shows.
It would be viewable by law enforcement, employers, advertising agencies, and the federal government.
And then I told you that people would willingly, happily, put all of that information into the database themselves?
Would you tell me I was crazy? If you know where I'm going with this—and you probably should—then you might say, no. But if you're old enough to remember the days before Facebook, then you might be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I would have thought that was crazy 20 years ago.”
Welcome to the future, my friends!
I find it pretty interesting myself. Thinking about all of those people out there, just “checking in” at every place they stop. Telling the whole world what they had for lunch that day, or where they are going to be that night. Why? Isn't that shit personal?
Now, I know I'm not the first person to think about this, and most certainly not the first to write about it (though, to be honest, I've never read those writings. Just going by the law of averages here.) But I've really been thinking about this a lot lately, and I feel the need to get my thoughts on this subject down, if for no other reason than to make my brain shut the fuck up about it.
So, why? Why do people so willingly give up every single little detail about their personal lives? I have a theory; I call it The Parim Kardashiltian Effect. People are so desperate for fame-for-the-sake-of-fame that they are willing to sacrifice all of their personal privacy to attain even the merest hint of it.
They see Kim and Paris being followed around by cameras every day being “real” and think, “I want that.” They know no better, and think the bile-inducing train wreck of these peoples lives is something to be emulated, while those of us with functioning neurons can only stand by and slowly shake our heads. And we are the minority!
These people believe they are such special, magical, one-of-a-kind, little snowflakes that they honestly think the whole world wants, nay, needs to know about how delicious that ham sandwich they had for lunch was. They use the GPS in their phones to map out every place they stop, but shit their pants when they find out that their faggoty ass iPhone has a “secret” text file that can be accessed by anyone with a computer.
Really? You document every detail of your life in an easily accessible online database and then freak out when you learn that if someone physically gets ahold of your device they can open a text file detailing the different sites on the route you just uploaded to the net via your GPS?
Why would you care about that when anyone with an internet connection can just go to www.Facebook.com/idontunderstandirony and see what you were up to that day?
There are already numerous documented cases of stalking, harrassment, and people announcing their plans to take a week-long vacation, then coming home to find they've been robbed.
What was that? Not you? Your account is private, you say? Oh really. How private? Can friends of friends view your profile? Just friends? How big is your friends list? It's over 9000?!!!
Yeah, sure, go ahead and think that.
Look, I don't want to come off like some conspiracy-theory-spouting tinfoil-hat crazy, but as a realist who has, more than once, come a hairs-breadth from deleting the profile I haven't updated in years; I can't say that I am comfortable with the amount of information I have already shared, and even that is infinitesimal compared to what most people are putting out on a daily basis.
When I think of Facebook nowadays I can't help but conjure post-cold war, pre-internet images of government offices with rows and rows of filing cabinets, all with countless manila folders inside, and one of them has your name on it.
Back then it was scary. Now, it's just a status update.