Social Media: Big Brother or the Ultimate Driver of Transparency?

Despite being a big believer in all the glories of social media, I’m still suspicious of its undeniable “Big Brother” characteristics. Let’s face it: Nothing whispered into the black hole of the World Wide Web is sacred–not from employers, law officials, parents, children, spouses … you name it. Sometimes I’m inclined to loathe this connectivity and its inherent invasion of privacy. I even went so far as to abstain from Facebook (until last month, that is)–an act that is considered to be the ultimate form of social suicide by my peers.

But, as someone who also values transparency above all else in relationships (professional and otherwise), the continued solidification of this Big Brotherhood does have at least one benefit: Universal transparency will be a reality in the not-so-distant future, and not necessarily because of the noble work of honest leaders. Rather, it will be the result of cyberspace’s boundless memory, and its ability to recall the past with the click of a mouse

This communications-without-borders construct has already uncovered so many indiscretions that would have otherwise slipped under the radar (hooray), but it is also increasingly replacing face-to-face communications for situations as delicate as, say, announcing layoffs (boo). Is there a need for a line to be drawn as to when Web communications becomes inappropriate, or do certain instances just seem inappropriate now because they’re not yet the norm? (I can’t say I remember, but I’m willing to guess that e-mail had its fair share of critics in the early days). Just thoughts on this Thursday afternoon…

By Courtney Barnes

  • Karen Kossow

    Thank you! I am facing the struggle between keeping my privacy while keeping up with technological trends. As the PR industry calls for a more transparent professional, the personal side of of life wants more privacy. It is a delicate balance that is not easy to find – and I am glad to see that I am not the only one who thinks about it!!