Privacy Matters

These blogs are probably the most open I am on the Internet. And even then I haven’t written one for months. I cringe when I get Facebook memories popping up of my social media infancy, where I’d reveal to the world such intimate and necessary truths as ‘I’m getting a haircut today’ or ‘I forgot to log out of Facebook on the school computer and I’m a big gay boy with no friends.’ Honestly sometimes it’s like they were written by someone else.
Now I just use social media for jokes that would otherwise probably not see the light of day, such as the underappreciated:

“If pica’s a real condition, I’ll eat my hat.”

Solid gold.
I do this maybe because of a sense of feeling that my intimate, non-hilarious thoughts are not worth sharing most of the time, especially with the tenuous Facebook friendships of people who I haven’t spoken to since school, or close friends of my ex-pat ex-girlfriends. Yes more than one has left the country. And yes my current girlfriend is a second generation immigrant, and it may look like I’ve realised I have a certain country-fleeing effect on girlfriends, and am now trying to enact that on a person of colour, but Jesus Christ what kind of person would even make that connection. I mean I’m either a psychopathic racist, or am so desperate to find patterns in things that I don’t mind if it makes me seem like a psychopathic racist.
But I’m very private remember.

In any past relationships, be they interracial or monochrome, I am lucky that we’ve never had to face the daunting prospect of accidental pregnancy, and the ensuing fear of realising we aren’t ready, deciding who to tell, arranging an abortion, and the subsequent guilt. But luckily I know that if that had happened, that’s how things would have gone. And not down a terrifying road of forced procreation as dictated by the law. It’s great that Ireland have repealed the 8th amendment, and while the phrase ‘too little, too late’ comes to mind, it’s still better than the referendum not happening at all. Now we just have to wait for the inevitable irony of uber-religious Pro-Brexit English people, desperate to meddle in Ireland’s affairs, suggesting a second referendum, because the people ‘weren’t informed enough’. Still mad to think there was that giant red bus campaigning around Ireland telling people that ‘abortions are the cause of 9/11’ or ‘terminating a pregnancy results in seven years bad luck.’

Personal privacy is now linked inextricably to online privacy, as evidenced by the fact that new data protection regulation came into force this week to take into account the impact the Internet has had on the usage of personal data, a mere 27 years after the Internet began. With so many well overdue instances of updating privacy, it feels like someone finally allowed to put a lock on their front door after their house has been burgled for the seventeenth time.
Receiving so many emails from the ghosts of mailing lists past feels like being contacted by those people you’d forgotten you were still Facebook friends with, and being asked if you still care what their feed has to offer. ‘Please re-friend now, if you continue to be interested in pictures of my latest Pandora purchase, or hilarious chewing gum pranks.’
One of the emails I got was from something called The Inner Circle, which as far as I can remember, was a site/app that tried to give the idea of online dating a feeling of prestige, by placing you in the upper echelons of potential match-ups, supposedly giving you some sort of tacit advantage by virtue of being on that site at all. I never ended up using it, partly because one of the requirements was to get three friends to sign up too, which in hindsight makes it sound like a pyramid dating site – a Ponzi Tinder. If I’d taken a moment to consider it, instead of giving up because I didn’t want my friends to know that I was trying to sign up to a dating app for ‘beautiful people’, I would have realised that it seems like a terrible idea anyway. Why the hell would I want to place myself in contention with people who actively consider themselves good looking? I guess the idea is that I’d feel I deserved to be there, right until people could see me, like those videos of baby animals raised by a different species, when a baby pig that thinks it’s a cat, and has no idea how out of place it looks.

On a related note, Facebook announced an initiative to cut down on instances of revenge porn being uploaded to their site, by asking users to upload the images themselves first, so that the digital fingerprints could be recognised if uploaded by someone else. These images would of course only be seen by Facebook employees, a company with a famously stellar reputation for using people’s information ethically.
Facebook has ensured the public that the people viewing these images will be specially selected, presumably the process for which is asking:

Do nude pictures make you horny? If no, we may have an opportunity for you.

Very on brand though, for a company that routinely reminds you of all of the embarrassing things from your past anyway without prompting. I’d love to be an Irish government official now, looking back at their Facebook memory of the time they passed the 8th amendment, and shaking their heads in embarrassment. ‘What were we thinking? Anyway, best get these dick pics uploaded.’


Next time on the bandwagon, I’ll either continue to attempt to be relatively topical, or finally write up the results of my ‘Giant Hippo vs Giant Zippo’ experiment.