As we adapt to the technology we carry in our pockets, many feel that our personal privacy is in peril. The availability of smart phones and the convenience that they bring to our lives has trumped the desire to stay “off the radar” for many. I fall into that category, and have wholeheartedly jumped right in to the fray of social networks, blogging, sharing photos and musings to the willing public that has also charged ahead into this new frontier.
While the adoption of these technological “intrusions” into our daily lives might negatively impact the expectation of privacy, the positive impact can easily outweigh this negative. Accusations that social networks and smart phones are killing IRL (In Real Life) interactions are warranted, though the option to truly shut out others is one that people make for themselves. For some, social networks and smart phones can bring people closer together, which is what the true goal should be for people who value personal interaction.
My most recent example of positive impact from the use of social media and smart phones came about on a trip to New Orleans. My son and I ventured to the Big Easy for a single evening to take in dinner and a concert. On our leisurely stroll towards the venue, we opted to walk down Bourbon Street and I happened to take a few photos. When we arrived at Acme Oyster Bar for a fine repast of oysters, I took a moment to share some photos on Instagram, which I cross-posted to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Foursquare. Each of these social networks has their own distinguishing features and purpose, but what resulted from my posting resulted in pleasant surprises.
Within a couple of minutes of posting, I got a Facebook message from a friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. Apparently, when I cross-posted my photo to Foursquare (which identified my location at Acme Oyster Bar) her phone notified her that I was nearby, thanks to her usage of the Swarm app , an offering from Foursquare that allows you “keep up and meet up with your friends.” Being that she was a few blocks away, we walked over and got to visit for a little while. This chance encounter in a global destination like New Orleans was a welcome surprise, one that could only be experienced thanks to our adoption of social media.
An isolated event, you might think? Not quite, as my social media postings yielded another welcome happenstance. Back at dinner while my son and I enjoyed our oysters, I received another Facebook message from my old college roommate. He had seen one of my photos that I cross-posted on Facebook and saw that I was in the French Quarter. He happened to be down the street eating dinner, in for one night on his travels elsewhere. After I finished my visit with my first friend, we continued our walk to the concert and I met my old friend. We got a chat for a bit, introduced him to my son, and enjoyed each other’s company for a short time before we each moved on to our previous plans for the evening. Had I not shared my photo, or had he not checked his Facebook, we might have gone years before seeing each other.
In less than hour with a couple of pictures, social media facilitated not one, but two reunions with old friends. Seeing friendly faces in strange places and enjoying their company in real life is a blissful byproduct to my activity on social media. Want privacy? Don’t post on social media. It’s a simple rule, but one I choose not to heed.