One of the pillars of the social media revolution over the past few years has been the enthusiastic and insatiable desire among tens of millions of people to talk about what they’re doing – everything from the need to have a coffee and how their cat is sick to views on world politics and the latest and great online services.
In many ways, I totally get the need to tell what you’re doing or thinking.
But what puzzles me is the next stage in the social media total disclosure movement: the need to tell where you’re located. Using services such as FourSquare and Brightkite, people are broadcasting their locations – e.g. I’m now at 432 Main St., Boston, Mass.
While I sort of get why some people might find this service to be interesting or a novelty, it strikes me as so 1984-ish. It’s bad enough we’re publicly disclosing lots of personal details of our lives but when you start telling people where you are as well, the entire concept of privacy evaporates.
Maybe it’s the way we’re living these days but broadcasting my location isn’t something I’m going to do. If anyone wants to know where I’m located, they can call me. Otherwise, I’m wandering around the city in relative anonymity aside from all those CCTV cameras being installed.
It does make you wonder whether the concept of privacy is disappearing little by little, and whether anyone is worried about it. Personally, I’ve taken a pragmatic approach to online disclosure. While I have a relatively high profile on the Web in terms of who I am and what I do professionally, I’ve tried to keep my personal life relatively low-key. So the idea of broadcasting my location is a no-go.
Sooner or later, this total disclosure phenomena is going to bite someone in the ass. If you’re a social media savvy break and enter specialist, you could make a killing by simply monitoring who’s broadcasting the fact they are working away from home or going on vacation.
Sometimes, it’s best to keep your cards close to the vest but many people are more than happy to do the opposite.
More: Here’s a CNN opinion piece by Mashable Pete Cashmore on why privacy dead.