We didn’t mean that transparent…

Transparency and openness are so 2008 and you’re so 2000 late.. OK so I’m paraphrasing Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas a bit there.. But I have a simple point to make with a larger concern. look at these latest headlines.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Believe In Privacy

What Do New Facebook Features Mean for Your Privacy?

See What Facebook Publicly Publishes About You

NJ Principal Asks Parents To Ban Social Networking

Facebook’s High Pressure Tactics: Opt-in or Else

Facebook’s Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline

So where’s our head at? When some of us first got into social media we touted, and admittedly I still do, the transparent and authentic nature of it all. How social media connected us or would connect us, in ways that we never dreamed of. It was our sales pitch if you will.

Sadly those days are over. Transparency and openness are the old defaults.

A funny thing has happened along the way. Some of us are not as cool with that as we thought we would be.

We care about our privacy. We just didn’t realize how much social networks didn’t.

We didn’t start to care about how much was “out there” until we started to see it abused and blasted all over search engines and showing up in our mail boxes.

The pushback has started. Privacy is the new default, and it’s time for Facebook to quit making it so damn difficult for people to understand how to control what others can and cannot see.

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You think you are so transparent

But you’re not. If you were, your offline world would be very similar to your online. And it’s not. How do I know? I don’t. But I do know how my offline world works and there are but a few similarities between the two. I bet for some of you, If you sat down and did a side by side comparison of what you do online versus what you do offline-you would no doubt see that they are very very different. They are apples and oranges. Your offline world ain’t so transparent.

 

So what’s my point?  Marketers, Social media marketers, and PR people who preach about asking or telling someone to be transparent online in social networks, might want to re-think that. Why? Because it’s more difficult than you think.

Yes, some do come out of their shells online. And the numbers bear that out. Possibly because they are now hiding behind the screen, they can now be this completely “other” person. Can they finally become the person they really are underneath it all? It’s possible. The “real you”? Maybe. The flip side though is, they can be the asshole too. There’s transparency that shows the good in a person, but there’s also the transparency that shows the bigot, the evil and the cruel in some people as well. Online personas allow that.

You see being transparent has different connotations depending on where you are and who you are. Asking someone to all of a sudden “be”, is a lot more difficult than you think. You never thought about that did you?  We throw around the words authentic and transparent in social networks, because they are”buzzy” and the words du jour, but what we have failed to realize is that asking someone to all of a sudden change gears and be something that they can barely “do” offline can be a lot more difficult than it appears not to be. Sometimes I wonder if we want the “real” you online.