How we chose to give our privacy away

Privacy has become a huge topic in this country over the past year, especially after allegations against the National Security Agency, which was accused of harvesting phone records and other user-data from various large companies. Everyone has their own right to privacy, and it seems like people will jump at the thought of theirs being invaded. But with a world that runs off of credit cards, GPS systems, cell phones and the Internet, are we choosing to have our privacy invaded?
As a college student in his early twenties, I can say I’m pretty up-to-date with technology and the latest trends. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, mostly. Granted, you will not find any status updates, pictures or tweets on my pages regarding my last trip to the restroom, but believe it or not, that is a common thing to find nowadays. Social networking gives literally anyone the opportunity to be a pseudo-celebrity with fifteen seconds of fame since content is available for anyone with Internet access to see. All it takes is a little promotion and sometimes a little skill but mostly the willingness to potentially make a fool of yourself for what you are doing to get the world talking.
For a perfect example of this, look no further than the Kardashian family. Before the infamous sex tape was “stolen” and “leaked” to the public, no one knew who Kim Kardashian or Ray Jay was other than “the daughter of the guy who got O.J. acquitted” or “Brandi’s little brother.” Now, both of these people and their families have made millions because they shared what should be the most private of acts with the world. They chose to share that, and we chose to accept it. Who are really at fault here: the two people who made the tape and used it to become instant celebrities, or the people who actually gave them attention and pushed them into fame?
Now consider if that situation were to happen about 30 years ago. I believe things would have gone a lot differently-mainly because of the lack of technology from what we have today. If someone had an embarrassing photograph of himself or herself back then, all he or she had to do was throw the picture or camera film away. But in the digital age we live in now, once a photograph, audio clip or video is taken, it becomes immortal.
Social media networks at their core are nothing more than compilations of users’ lives through photos, videos, audio clips and text. It’s what we upload using those mediums that affects our privacy. Take Facebook for example. Fifteen years ago, if someone you’ve never met were to come up to you and tell you everything from your birthday, to your first job, to your high school, to your pet’s name, you would call the police because that person had to be a stalker. Nowadays, all that information and more can be found on a person’s Facebook profile with a few simple clicks, should they choose to put it. Social media gives people the opportunity to put their entire lives on the Internet for the world to see from harmless things like your favorite color to that delicious coffee you had the Starbucks Coffee shop on Canal Blvd. in Thibodaux, LA at exactly 4:35 p.m. yesterday. Privacy is a right that everyone has, and quite literally defined, privacy is what we do not want other people to know, but if people were really passionate about keeping their privacy protected, there are a lot different ways to do so. How ironic is it that someone can actually post a status on Facebook complaining about the government invading their privacy, while at the same time having that update geographically tagged at the building they posted it from?
Over the past few years, technology has been based off of the social movement. This idea of “getting connected” with one another can actually be a very good thing as long as we are aware of everything we are sharing with the world. People still have full ability to protect their own privacy, just as long as they are willing to give up some of the things we have today designed to make our lives easier. With a few simple clicks in your privacy settings on your phone or social media profile, it is actually not that difficult to keep some control on who can see what you post. If that is still not enough, you can always just delete the account and throw away the cell phone, but we all know how difficult that will be.