Privacy, What Is It Good For?

Absolutely nuthin’? I know I can’t get paid for the limitless minutia that gets collected by Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, &c about my online personal habits, but if someone else can, and I get something in return, should I be unhappy? Maybe I was desensitized by Myspace, but my position regarding online privacy is ‘I don’t give a sh*t’. This is mainly because I have a limited, yet functional understanding of how computers and the internet work, and because I have an awareness of the relative levels of interest in me on the part of other parties. Speaking as a music artist and sometime promoter, it’s actually damned difficult to get anyone to give half a damn about anybody but themselves; to quote Jack Black, “I signed up for this.”, so I don’t hold any reasonable expectation of privacy, nor the need for it, if it doesn’t come with private jet included.

Homeland security only needs to know if I want to blow someone or something up, and maybe whether I actually know how to do that. (that guy on Foursquare, leering at me from across the bar, probably only wants to know if I’d like to blow someone, and he won’t be wasting his time or mine, thanks to the app) Advertisers are just like me; they hate to waste ad money. Have you ever calculated how large a fraction of your (precious to you) life you’ve spent listening to the features and benefits of panty liners? (you probably still have the damned jingle stuck in your head, how’s that for invasive?) That’s a hidden benefit to targeted advertising that you seldom hear about, amidst the ‘brave, new world’ groaning and complaining. If that alone doesn’t mitigate your unreasoning fear, consider the NSA problem; they collect so much data, it could take seventy, eighty years to sort, prioritize, collate and understand half the signals they vacuumed up in 1978, so they’re trying to drink from a firehose.

If I don’t see anything sinister in this new layer of publicly available knowledge, does this mean I don’t have any sinister intentions/motives? And if that’s true, what does it say about the ‘privacy at any cost’ crowd? Besides, there has always been a simple and completely effective method for keeping sensitive info out of the hands of those who might use it for evil. It’s called, “Don’t post it.” At the end of the day, privacy advocates aren’t nearly as interesting or as smart as they think they are. If they were, they’d be on reality TV.

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