I only have vague concerns about Big Brother, issues such as them using info to discriminate with medical insurance and/or treatment (if you post pictures of yourself smoking a cigarette will you be refused cancer treatments?) because I think the sheer volume of data they have probably means I get lost in the crowd. I don’t post enough, or give my details out enough, for them to notice me. (Although I suppose there is the argument that I stand out because of how little they know…sigh…can’t win).
But I don’t use social media mostly on principle, selling people’s data without making it explicitly clear that’s what you’re going to do is shady in the extreme, but there was one particular incident that really put the lid on it for me. I have never downloaded fb but my friends all have and one day I mentioned something in a shop window, obviously within listening range of my friends phone and within 15 minutes she was being shown adverts for the thing I had talked about. I found that massively creepy…possibly intensified by the fact that I used to go to sleep listening to 1984 by George Orwell on the radio when I was 14.
What it really boils down to was that I grew up with NO privacy whatsoever and that is not a healthy state to be in. Every part of my life was available for examination and was usually found wanting. Subjects dear to my heart, hobbies and studies I was passionate about and small, secret pleasures were all used against me to humiliate and shame and keep me in my place. Now I guard my privacy jealously, it is an asset to me, it protects me from ridicule because I don’t want to play the game we are being told is necessary (give everyone your info or you’re a loser).
When you are never really Seen you get very good at hiding because being Seen becomes painful and the idea of international companies using the sight of You to sell themselves is stomach churning.
So I won’t be joining any social media sites, I won’t be promoting myself on Instagram or Pinterest and I won’t be judging my life as compared to other peoples…people who are also judging their lives against whichever impossible target is being set that day.
I don’t feel smug and superior because of my avoidance, I feel lucky to have dodged that bullet. I also feel sorry for the younger generations who are under the demands of normality and acceptance and believe that giving their whole lives over to the social media companies is the only way to get anywhere in life.