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The Internet can have my private life

October 28, 2009

Pete Cashmore has a post up today about the “death of privacy” in today’s social media age:

Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value. They’ll be the richest, the most successful, the most connected, capable and influential among us. We’re all publishers now, and the more we publish, the more valuable connections we’ll make.

That was kind of the underlying point of my Personal Branding post, but I think a lot of people stop themselves before they even get to the point of thinking about a personal brand. There’s a lot of fear involved with social media. People are afraid of it the same way I’m afraid of airplanes—mass media expose them to the worst possible outcomes and they shut themselves off, ignoring the obvious (and numerous) benefits.

I agree with what Patrick Thornton said when he linked me to Pete’s post: “Being social has certainly helped me in my life.” And I’ll add to it: Being social has helped me personally, professionally and with regard to my civic duties. Interacting online means actually being more social than I probably would otherwise. I’ve met and contacted people who I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. I feel like a more informed citizen because I pick up blurbs about what’s going on in my neighborhood, state and country, rather than having to seek them out (in which case, I probably wouldn’t find many of them).

The best part is, there’s an absolutely massive body of knowledge floating around out there and I get to log onto the Internet everyday and learn—not just by intake, but by output, too. It’s one thing to read something and go, “Hmm;” it’s quite another to read something, comment on it and get feedback from the author, all inside an hour (same goes for writing my own posts).

Are there drawbacks? Sure. I’ve been smacked around for saying something stupid (that actually turned out to be a good thing). There are probably a few pictures of me from college floating around on Facebook that I’d rather people not see. But the rewards outweigh the potential risks. I spend so much time producing content that I do want people to see that it’s unlikely they’ll find what I don’t want them to see.

Obviously there’s a line and there are some things I’ll just never post on the Web. But I want more people to get involved because the more people there are interacting with each other, the more opportunities there are for everyone involved.

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