Life In The Public Eye

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Back in the day, long before the interwebs and online bulletin boards, the only people whose lives were on display for public consumption were celebrities, politicians, and the odd criminal. And how we used to mock them for complaining about their lack of privacy! “The Paparazzi are out of control!“, they’d wail. And all while we rolled our eyes, asserting that if they didn’t want the exposure they should have pursued an office job instead.

Skip to today. Everyone (with the possible exception of my parents) is on full-exposure. And I’m not talking about the servers holding your business transactions for all the world to see. I’m talking about what we willingly give up through social media and online communications. I think we have all either come to realize that privacy in the year 2021 is impossible, or we never stop to think about it.

An example! I was just looking through my Facebook memories this morning, when this reared its ugly head:

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For those not in the know, Zoosk is a dating site. And someone had taken images of me from Facebook and created a fake profile. I found out about this because a friend contacted me to accuse me of cheating on Nikki. (This was four years ago, for the record). And no matter what I said, no matter how many inconsistencies I showed her in the profile … (I’m supposed to be a Christian for god’s sake?!!!) … she would not believe that I was the victim. So naturally I played out my plea of innocence online. And at the time, I didn’t see the irony in that.

I have no idea what the endgame of this imposter was. I can only imagine it wasn’t going to involve an in-person appearance, because … well, I don’t have a twin that I know of. So someone was going to use my likeness to scam women out of something valuable. I did report this and it was taken down, but it’s a prime example of what can happen to us online, even when we’re not “in the know”. The only reason I found out about this was because apparently I was the perfect match for a friend who didn’t have the capability to believe in her perfect match. (Me). She never did accept my innocence, even after Nikki pleaded my case.

I bring this up because I was struggling recently with the direction of my YouTube channel. I had been on the receiving end of a lot of advice telling me to put more of myself out there. To make the channel more about me and my personal stories. But I’m old enough to remember that it’s only celebrities and other notables who get to do that. So I pushed back, refusing to share personal information. Until I realized that I was already doing that on a daily basis. Only with the illusion that I could control the audience through the “friends” I allowed onto my pages.

Obviously that didn’t work so well for me back in 2017.

I don’t think any of us should have the expectation of a private life. Not anymore. Sure, maybe we can keep some things secret, but overall … we’re already out there, and out there to stay. We may have the right to privacy, but we also don’t have the ability. And for the most part, we did this willingly.

For me, I’m making the decision to use this new world order for good. If I’m already in the public eye, then why not be an example? Use my stories to teach, or at least to warn? No, I am not a Hollywood Celebrity. Nor do I believe that people will flock to my channel to find out more about yours truly. But I do have the opportunity to use this new paradigm in ways that I couldn’t back during last century. So maybe the thought for all of us is … our lives being on public display is now a permanent fixture, so let’s all find ways of using that fact to everyone’s benefit.

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