I recently discovered that a friend of mine from college cancelled his Facebook account. I haven't had a chance to speak to him about it, but the timing of his move coincided with the social media platform's recent privacy blunder. It seems like more than a coincidence to me.
I can't blame him. None of us like to think about Facebook pawning off our personal information to the highest bidder, and Mark Zuckerberg's less-than-commanding performance in front of congress did little to assuage our fears.
But is the logical next step to give up your social media connections all together? There have certainly been a good number of people talking about "dropping off the grid" lately, especially those calling for Mr. Zuckerberg's hoodie-covered head. According to them, it's time to go back to the basics.
It makes me wonder, though, if that angry mob is made up of villagers who didn't really want to be on social media anyway. I did a straw poll of my college students about this topic (average age: 20 or so), and the response was a collective shrug.
My takeway was this: you're not worried about data privacy if you never expected it in the first place.
I think, perhaps it is too late to go back. I saw at my local gas station that it no longer takes personal checks. I won't be surprised on the day that they tell us that they no longer take cash (though, this seems a ways off). Likewise, during graduation party season, it has become more and more popular (and economical) to invite friends and family via social media rather than via the U.S. Postal Service. Just as insisting that you write a paper check will limit the places you can stop for gas, going off the grid will limit the number of people you connect with socially.
Doesn't anybody remember junk mail? Publishers Clearing House packed our mailboxes with garbage for twenty years but none of us asked the post office to stop delivering our mail.
How do you think that Ed McMahon and his cronies got your information? They bought it from a list broker! Ladies and gentlemen, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I'm not saying that you need to take part in social media, but I am asking you to consider that everybody who is younger than you will. You may not care about being left out, but you should understand the chances of being left behind.
Don't fear the internet. There are still a lot of good people on here. And if we work together, maybe we can make it better. Inviting Mr. Zuckerberg to Washington D.C. was probably a good first step.