Lately I’ve been thinking about social media and how almost everything can be shared. But I also have been wondering if because we live in an age of sharing everything are we taking things, such as the right to privacy, for granted? And is social media spiraling out of control?
A while back there was a story that caught my attention because it was an example of taking someone’s privacy for granted.
You may have heard about viral “Plane Bae” tweet. If not, here’s a short summary of what happened:
- A Dallas woman, Rosey Blair, created a viral tweet about two strangers’ seemingly romantic interactions on a plane. It all started when Blair asked a woman to switch seats with her, so she could sit next to her boyfriend on a plane trip back to Dallas.
- After seeing that the person next to the woman was an attractive man (later identified as former soccer pro Euan Holden), Blair got excited at the idea that she potentially played matchmaker and proceeded to film their interactions and conversations without their knowledge of her doing so.
- Posting them to twitter, the story blew up getting retweeted over 250,000 times, gained 630,000, and became a trending story. Blair and the male passenger from the plane used the tweet to promote themselves. Blair received coverage from media outlets like Buzzfeed and Huffpost and Holden even got to do TV interviews.
- The woman from the story though wanted to remain private and didn’t come forward. When users asked Blair for the girls name she said that she wouldn’t release it but hinted that the users were “sneaky” and encouraged them to play detective to find the girl themselves.
- Users eventually found out about the identity of the mystery woman and harassed, insulted and attacked her for her supposed actions (seemingly going to the bathroom on the plane with Holden) to the point where she deleted all her social media accounts.
- As a result of the woman being doxed, many people (even ones who covered and praised the story) changed their attitudes about the story seeing it as the invasion of privacy it was and turned on Blair for starting it all.
- Blair has since apologized for her actions.
When I first saw the story covered on the news in a positive light, I couldn’t understand why Blair was getting so much attention and praise for what I saw as stalker, voyeurism-like behavior. But as the story unraveled and eventually soured, I realized it wasn’t just Blair’s actions that were unacceptable but also the people who retweeted and romanticized the story; that we live in a world where most people feel they have a right to other peoples’ intimate details because of how social media has allowed us and encouraged us to be open.
You would think people would be more understanding, tolerant, empathetic and less impulsive and reckless when posting things on the social media. However, thanks to advancements in social media, we become more and more obsessed with ourselves. We have become, “selfie-centered.”
More people are starting to face the consequences of oversharing on social media. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was recently fired from the upcoming third movie because of tweets he made years ago (when he was lesser known) that joked about pedophilia and other taboo subjects. Roseanne Bar was fired from her rebooted sitcom for a racist tweet comparing former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape, while attacking Muslims at the same time. And Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader was forced to apologize for old homophobic and racist posts made while he was in high school in 2012.
According to numerous reports, people spend an average of two hours every day immersed in sharing, liking, tweeting and updating their content on social media. According to the BBC, around half a million tweets and Snapchat photos are shared every minute. The fact is, it has become interwoven into our everyday life; to the point where it seems the normal to share everything that goes on in our life will hopefully trend – perhaps set an all-time best record? But what most people seem to take for granted is we have the right to keep certain things private, don’t have to share everything that happens, and the most important thing to take away from this story is that we have forgotten about other people’s right to privacy.
My take away from this; if you want to share your thoughts, your life and your opinions online then by all means, go right ahead and do it. But if what you want to share involves and can affect someone else’s personal life, then either get permission from that person or don’t share it at all. Respect everyone’s right to live their life and share it by their choice. Controlling social media content starts with you.