Privacy is the price we pay

This post marks the final days of my college career. Listen to the video below as you let that soak in.

Cue the uncontrollable sobbing.

Everything up until this point has had an expiration date or a time limit: summer camp for two weeks, middle school for three years, high school and college for four years, fall semester, spring semester and then grad school if you’re doing that sort of thing, which I’m not. But you get the point.

I’ve thought a lot about the future this semester. Not only in regards to my future career and life, but also in regards to technology’s future. There are so many cool things being developed all the time, but with that also comes a big sacrifice. We don’t realize or comprehend how much privacy we give up every time we interact with social media or our mobile phones. To maintain relevancy, we have to have an Instagram, a Facebook and a LinkedIn, so giving up our privacy doesn’t really phase us.

It wasn’t until JOMC 240 that I truly comprehended how much privacy we give up by using social media and technology in general. Technology changes so quickly that we don’t have time to slow down and think about it before we download our next app. We seem to be stuck on this idea that the government is spying on us. That’s probably true, but we should be more concerned about Apple or Verizon spying on us and having access to everything. The government can only do so much without being called out, but Apple can do a whole lot of damage if they start giving people access to our private information. My iPhone knows where I live and will tell me approximately how many minutes it will take for me to get to places I visit regularly. This information conveniently appears on my phone’s drop down notification center, but I’ve never really thought about it as an invasion of privacy because I like knowing that it will take me about four minutes to drive home.

Hypothetically, Apple could give a stalker this information, or someone could hack the “cloud” and give a stalker this information. If I’m just putting it out there, by choice via my settings, I’m not so sure there is anyone to protect me until it’s too late. Dun dun dunnnn. Location-based technology easily becomes more creepy than convenient when you put it in a worst case scenario. I like knowing how many steps I take each day and like to do step competitions with my friends; but, if everyone knew when and where I walk, then there could be an issue.

Similarly, we don’t know if anyone is really protecting us from people hacking our bank accounts via Venmo, but it’s so convenient that we use it anyway. We willingly fork over our privacy for convenience. I’m still not sure if it is a good or bad thing because I haven’t actually seen any negative consequences from it. So what if someone knows where I live or work? I haven’t been harassed or stalked (knock on wood). I’m no celebrity, nor have I gotten Insta-famous (I’m still waiting for @drinksintheair to repost my pic) so what does it matter? It’s hard to be cautious when we haven’t seen bad results. Yet.

What I’m really circling back to here is Kranzberg’s idea that technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral. We shouldn’t fear technology, but we should think about it a little more before we embrace it. Ignorance is not bliss when your privacy is at risk.

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