I watched Terms and Conditions May Apply at the weekend. It was mostly shockingly awful, utterly incapable of dealing with the online privacy debate with any depth, balance or intelligence.
It suffers from a couple of the problems with the conversation around online privacy I think. The first being that most people don’t actually care that much. So like any relatively marginal issue it only gets discussed by people who really care, leading to the discussion getting dominated by those with extreme views. Which is how we end up with a documentary that appears to be premised on the idea that any sharing of your personal information on the internet is just bad without bothering to consider any of the positives. And regardless of whether you did in fact choose to put it there.
Then there’s the issue that badgers most technology related debates. Which is that a portion of understanding of the technology is required to fully comprehend the issue. What happens is people who have very little understanding of the technology base their opinion on relatively little understanding. And then they make a film about it.
I don’t have an absolute stand on online privacy. I consider it to be a trade off. I give you my data, you give me a service. How much data you want to trade and how much you value the service is up to you. Which is why I don’t think anyone can take an absolute stand on this issue. It can only be subjective, and hinges on this balance. Something the filmmakers clearly failed to comprehend.
Now, this might make me sound like I’d be in the Zuckerberg school of thought when it comes to the issues of privacy and identity online. Which I most certainly am not, mainly because I don’t really believe he believes in his own (or Facebook’s own) supposed mission of ‘connecting the world’. I think monetary motivation has always taken precedent over that motivation. The guy is a complete sociopath driven only by dollar signs. But, the film did remind me of something he’s quoted to have said and that I’ve always at least found interesting.
The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly. Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook
This quote is from 2010, and I’ve always been kind of tempted to think that this is actually true. It’s quite a liberal idealism, so you’d think that like most ideals I would move away from it as I grow older. But in fact the opposite is true. I’m more confident now than I was in my mid to early twenties. More of a complete individual, and subsequently one with fewer identities.
I love hard rock music, snowboarding, football, beer. All things that don’t really correlate with a corporate environment. But I wouldn’t shirk at discussing any of these in a business meeting, if they came up. I don’t see a point to wearing a suit, unless it’s to actually look good. So many people dress formally because they feel it’s socially appropriate. That’s the wrong reason. I think being myself in any given environment, including a work one, does constitute a certain integrity.
So all that applies online too. You know, be yourself. Follow your dreams. And other assorted Disney-esque assertions.
It’s kind of why I’ve started this blog. My thoughts about music, film, technology, sport, fitness, marketing, media, all the stuff I have thoughts about really, will be here alongside everything else.
photo credit: Sean MacEntee