Are values different these days? Once upon a time you could tell a lawyer, doctor, estate agent! anything and know that it would not be repeated. Nowadays, I have my doubts that is still the case. Of course, these people have professional codes of practice, but somehow the word seems to ‘get out’. Just check the tabloids.
And what about loyalty and integrity amongst friends? That appears to be rare these days. You meet someone, have a relationship with them, it breaks down and you are left the keeper of secrets… How many ex-partners feeling resentful and hurt about a break-up manage to keep their mouths shut? You probably gave your ex-partner photos, documents, letters? Recently a friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend only to see he had used all the photos she’d taken of him on dating sites. How hurtful is that? Where is discretion?
The whole issue of personal data protection is fraught with problems. What should you do if someone uses personal information they have about you in another context? Does that add up to theft? A photo is a likeness of you and that’s pretty personal. What about love letters? When you are dead, it won’t matter a jot. But while you are still breathing, how can you stop someone sabotaging your personality by showing your letters to other people? If you are rich and famous you can sue. Most ordinary citizens can’t do that and now that the Internet dominates our lives, you can simply Google someones name and see what is on the net about them and their personal life. It can feel very threatening and you can do nothing about it,
Social network sites do have privacy laws, but you can’t stop your details being uploaded elsewhere, because details about you can be accessed through your work, your friends, even through other sites. You may think you are researching your family in confidence. YOU ARE NOT. And once you are on the net, you are there forever, it seems. Out in the ether, your details, your name, your family, your job contacts, your likes and dislikes cannot be rubbed out once they are on the net. There may be lies about you or others may have used your good name to lie about themselves in order to make themselves look more employable or just more interesting than they really are. We all recognise a nutter during a real life interaction but it’s much more difficult on the net because all the other clues, like body language and eye contact are missing.
Unlike a newspaper, where after a mistake is made in an editorial about someone’s personal life, an apology can be printed the next day, on the Internet, that can’t be done. You can contact the site manager, but the organisation maybe based thousands of miles away from you and you will have to wait for an email response that may not deal appropriately with your complaint.
The internet is an amazing resource and I cannot now imagine life without it, but beware of what you upload about yourself and who has access to your personal details because they can so easily post them on dozens of sites without your permission and you may never be able to remove them
© Lyn Ferrand 2009