Privacy vs. Hiding

In a recent article by Google, there was a discussion about the younger generations’ seeming need to overshare via social media. I believe this is a major issue we need to help our youngsters better understand and navigate. Why? There are two major issues that surface when humans share intimate details about themselves without filter.

First, the compulsion to overshare is laced with a) the need to please and impress others and b) the need to maintain constant attention. Both of these reasons will predictably lead to people living in a revolving emotional rollercoaster where they are both controlled by others and where motivation is externalized. The result? Higher rates of depression and anxiety are expected in the long term and when it is pervasive across a society, the impact to decision making, personal motivation and effectiveness, as well as health will be severe.

Second, oversharing can lead to too much information being posted about a person that, in the future, will hinder them from jobs, relationships, opportunities. It doesn’t allow people to grow and change. The implications could be massive if our younger generations are recording every action, thought, experience and as a result being defined, constrained by their younger selves. Can you imagine if all your missteps in life were recorded and available to all to see forever? How might that have changed who you are today? How might that have stifled your personal growth? We all need the ability to reinvent ourselves and we need to help our youth respect their older selves.

We need to take a stand as a society to help our youth understand the distinction between privacy and hiding information. It is reasonable and appropriate to refuse to answer questions or requests from others when those requests are too personal. We need to help draw that line for them so they know how and when to say no. Most importantly, we need to support privacy instead of bullying and punishing people who refuse to answer or respond. As a society, we assume the worst when people say something is none of anyone’s business. But the reality is that if we don’t start empowering our people to say exactly that, with confidence, we guarantee a downstream loss of national maturity, mental health status, innovation and progress.

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