THE BLOG
11/09/2010 01:46 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Privacy and the Trigger Effect: A Swift Kick In...

The privacy conversation has devolved to a continual return to the idea that people no longer care about it and the new social norm is, I suppose by default, a public existence. Some aver that this view is generational; others ring the death knell for privacy altogether.

It is tempting to accept this proposition. People enjoy that instant publication gives them their 15 minutes of fame, through You Tube and other platforms. The national obsession with a show like Jersey Shore renders people to want to share their own "GTL" even if their only venue to broadcast is Facebook, not MTV.

The convergence of "reality media," social networks and instant publication have led to the misconception that privacy is dead; rather, we remain in our own societal beta test of the global power of the social net. The movements online to thwart the efforts of companies like Facebook do not lack change potential; they are merely impersonal. For digital natives and the rest of us, valuing privacy has always required some sort of a contextual element, a lesson, a moment or an incident that causes us to value privacy. Privacy is subject to a trigger effect.

For some, it is a violation of intimacy barriers that triggers a new concern over privacy. For others, it may be a lesson learned the hard way that the real world and the virtual world are not that distinct. Your colleague saw that unseemly Facebook post. Dartmouth considered not only what you wrote on your admissions essay, but what you tweeted. Your boss discovered that you "checked" into Disneyland on FourSquare the day you called in sick. The implications of our own behavior, not the behavior of the social networks themselves, will create the shift back to privacy, individual by individual.

A New York Times piece from last Friday, The Facebook Skeletons Come Out, highlights some trigger situations for individuals who have already learned that social networks throw us into the "frying pan." For the thirteen year old who has not known a world without the Internet and being a "public figure," we may find that this thirteen year-old will find themselves at eighteen, twenty-four or thirty with a set of information security values that we today are arguing is the antiquated notion of "privacy." To act as a proxy for those who cannot make the decision about this value themselves, whether by virtue of age or lack of access to technology, is irresponsible.

In an interview with Hemanshu Nigam, Chief Security Officer of MySpace, regarding children's privacy, Nigam noted that society has been focused on, particularly with children, inappropriate contact and content online, such as pornography or violent video games. It has not been until recently that this conversation has been opened up to include conduct. It is the new shift to conduct where the decision about privacy will be made.

The swift kick in our cultural derriere will be the realization that your "15 minutes" takes 15 seconds to download.