It seems that from the very beginning, Facebook has endured criticism of privacy security. Perhaps some paranoid, perhaps some legitimate concern, people want to know if their information is safe. But this concern for online privacy has two distinct directions.
The first is this. Just about everybody wants assurance that certain personal information is safely kept private. I would like to think that my banking website where I log in to pay bills and transfer funds is safely secure. I would like to hold a certain amount of trust that my bank is not posting my account numbers for the whole world to see.
Then there is a second cyber privacy concern that has been forced into the spotlight by social networks like Facebook. Who exactly can see information that I post about myself? What a fascinating snapshot of culture this issue provides! People create Facebook accounts for the purpose of posting information about themselves on the Internet; then are concerned about who sees it. I guess my first response is this: if you’re worried about the privacy of information you post on Facebook, then don’t use Facebook.
But there is something more here. What this issue is telling me is that there are people who post things on Facebook that they only want certain people to see…or maybe more precisely, they want to make sure certain people cannot see. In other words, my online identity is something I want to keep hidden from certain people.
Why? How about this: dissociative identity disorder. D.I.D. is a psychiatric diagnosis and describes a condition in which a person displays multiple distinct identities, each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. It’s my suspicion that social media enhances the dissociative identity tendencies in many people. We are people who can have an “online personality” that is completely different from the personality we present to others face-to-face.
Maybe this is why there is such outrage surrounding the whole issue of social media privacy. I post thoughts, opinions, and pictures online that express my online personality; and all the while I physically portray another personality. But since I don’t want people to think that I’m a hypocrite, I try to hide the layers of my dissociative personality disorder.
Well let me offer this. In 1 Corinthians 4 the Apostle Paul says that God will bring to light what we try to hide in darkness, and he will expose the motives of the heart. Maybe it goes something like this: the highest goal I can achieve is to consistently be who God created me to be. The highest compliment anyone can give to a follower of Jesus is the compliment of authenticity—that I am who I say I am. Paul reminds us that God knows our inner thoughts anyway, and one day he will expose the motives of our hearts. Given that, it seems to me that authenticity is a spiritual discipline. The intentional practice of following God by consistently displaying who I am is good for the soul.
So then, in keeping with the spiritual discipline of authenticity, why not let my Facebook thoughts be out there for all to see? Then instead of spending time worrying about keeping my cyber personality hidden from people who might discover my hypocrisy, I will spend time bettering who I am so that my personality does not have to be hidden at all.
Till next time…