Beware, Are You Invading Your Own Zone of Privacy

It’s not just our privacy as individuals that we breach with our “mindless” social media dalliances, it’s also the privacy of our behaviours and actions, the privacy of personal data, the privacy of location and spaces and the privacy of association

Gunjan Pant Pande
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social media addiction

Teen TikTok stars Dixie and Charli D’Amelio lamented in a podcast how paparazzi invasion made them super uncomfortable. “Home is supposed to be a safe space, not a place where you have people waiting for you… every time I leave my apartment they’re illegally parked right outside.” Then they follow us, the sisters cried. 


Justin Timberlake calls the invasion of your privacy “the worst thing about being famous.” A whole bunch of celebs – George Clooney, Meghan Markle, Virat Kohli, Britney Spears, Shilpa Shetty – echo that sentiment having gone through traumatising trespassing by paps. 

Explaining why she isn’t on social media, Hollywood icon Scarlett Johansson famously said: “I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less than have to continuously share details of my everyday life… I value my privacy and my personal life and I certainly don’t exploit my personal life.” 

I certainly don’t exploit MY personal life! 

Emphasis on the “I” and “MY personal life” people. Not the paps or the crazy stans or virtual voyeurs and online addicts. Interesting. Very interesting actually because that I and MY could just a well be you and me. But unlike Johansson, about 62% of us “post ourselves” on social media for the whole world’s consumption according to a digital marketing survey. 

Ya, there are the so-called “privacy settings” that make you feel in control and all but sometimes how do you explain simple things like the deluge of cosmetics ads the instant you “like” a GRWM reel! OR more serious stuff like fake profiles, cyberstalking, faceless trolling and virtual bullying or even rape? Don’t be fooled by the ‘secure button,’ relentless hackers and bots are on the prowl out to decode the safest encryptions. 

Sum total: once you’re out there, you’re out there. There’s no going back. Damn the blocking, restricting and deleting. And in our case, we are the ones – sometimes knowingly, sometimes unknowingly – invading our own private space by “publicly” sharing our posts, pictures, location, links, comments, chats, videos, reels, stories, DP, likes, dislikes, tags! The quiet mode, incognito, close friends’ options are all a shreddable sheath after all once you are hell-bent on EXPOSING yourself with that innocent bed-hair selfie or the gym transformation reel! 


Each little revelation is a peep into YOU. A peep that YOU allow just about anyone. Think about it seriously if you haven’t. Do you really want that? Is that why you posted stuff? Are a few ‘likes’ worth the open intrusion? Can intimate details be innocently exposed? Should you crave such validation in an era of dubious SM surveillance? 

Two main reasons why many of us post or sometimes overshare on social media as per psychology are: one, some find it empowering and freeing, two for some it is to do with ‘untreated trauma’ -- a cry for help which a 2023 SM sadfishing questionnaire traced to anxiety, loneliness, attention-seeking and depression. 


Experts on the subject also talk about the privacy calculus effect and the online disinhibition effect behind oversharing. The first is when individuals weigh the pros and cons of oversharing and conclude that the ‘anticipated rewards’ outweigh the potential privacy risk, and the second as the name suggests is the apparent ease in posting from ‘behind a screen’ rather than face-to-face interaction. 

In all cases we are willingly happy to let go of one of our fundamental rights as humans – the right to privacy – “freedom from unauthorized intrusion, the state of being let alone. A state of not being disturbed or observed by others” that hinges on four essential elements: secrecy, intimacy, anonymity and solitude – things that all A-listers would give anything to have! “I have as much privacy as a goldfish in a bowl,” one of the royals once observed. Do we seriously want to be THAT goldfish? Even when we, as non-celebs, have the luxury of choice to NOT be that exhibition goldfish? 

And it’s not just our privacy as individuals that we ourselves breach with our “mindless” SM dalliances, it’s also the privacy of our behaviours and actions, the privacy of communication, the privacy of personal data, the privacy of thoughts and feelings, the privacy of location and spaces and the privacy of association. All 7 types of individual privacy are violated all at once. 


If privacy is defined as “the freedom from interference,” how do you justify scattering innumerable clues to yourself by your own self on SM when data breaches, hyper risk matrix and the rapacious info economy that feeds on personal data are hyperactive? 


“Privacy is power. What people don’t know they can’t ruin,” but today privacy is also so “dead and social media holds the smoking gun.” A gun that you and me fully loaded and handed over, all smiles! “The questions isn’t what do we want to know about people. The question is what do people want to tell about themselves,” quips Mark Zuckerberg very pertinently. 

Why is the P-word so significant here? Well, lawyers point out that privacy is about respecting individual space, it is to do with a person’s reputation management, it outlines social boundaries that must not be breached, it underlies trust, it controls you apart from being a fundamental freedom, the importance of which cannot be emphasized enough plus it allows you to change without having to explain yourself to anyone! 

Practitioners of Yutori and Ikigai will also talk of avoiding bad vibes, unnecessary drama, toxic jealousies and unsolicited advice by mindfully disciplining the self to live low-key, connect deeply, savour silence and embrace minimalistic habits through digital detox

This means that letting go of this POWER is a heavy price to pay – this self-invasion of your own privacy can be devastating! The right to be left alone, it is said is “the beginning of all freedoms,” so in a world where everyone is exposed can we do the coolest thing and “maintain our mystery?” Can we think before we click, stop before we overshare, and tread carefully with our digital footprint? Can we basically “not tell our private story unless we deliberately want riff-raff to be characters in it?” Can we abdicate Kingdom Delulu and make privacy our Roman Empire queen? 

Press the ‘like’ button if you agree! (Wink!) 

Views expressed by the author are their own

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