Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Public vs. Private

The ways people post in Facebook are sometimes bewildering, if not dumbfounding:
• A university graduate wrote curses as his status.
• A notable bank employee shared a promiscuous note on her wall.
• A middle-aged businessman created a photo album of himself making love to a voluptuous woman.

The list goes on.

While it is true that one has the right to express himself/herself, the freedom of expression – in whatever manner suitable to one’s own liking – depends largely on an absolute dimension one calls “space.”

The virtual world, whether we realize it or not, is a world nonetheless – a world where space and time exist. Similar to its reality counterpart, it also possesses “public spaces” and “private spaces.”
Facebook, Twitter, weblogs, forums, and mailing lists are public spaces, where people meet, share, and exchange information openly. They are sites that allow access to any and every information, exactly like coffee shops, markets, and libraries in the material world.
E-mails, inbox, and instant messengers are private spaces, where the information shared is strictly confidential between two parties or a group of exclusive members. Any exchange of conversation or information made through these private lines is not accessible to all, similar to letters or phone calls in the real world.

Being real – though virtual – these spaces also have what we in the material world call “ethics” or “manners.” As part of the global society, we are expected to act and react accordingly to these codes of ethics. Just because we are not talking face to face under the same roof, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be as true and well-mannered as when we are.

One of the underlying rules is this: know your place.
We must know exactly what to write/post/comment in one particular space:
• Is the issue public or private?
• Is it offensive to all or to an individual only?
• Is it private and confidential, or open and informative?

Understanding this rule, though extremely basic as it may seem, can prove essential to gain other people’s trust of our credibility. The three examples given at the beginning of this post show evidences of people who do not seem to understand some of the most fundamental manners. If they do not know how to behave in virtual public spaces, how will they win people’s trust in the material world?

Thinking (more than once) before posting or re-posting is of great importance:

You have something against some other folks?
Send them e-mails.
You want to share something private to certain people?
Start a closed group.
You need to find a date?
Join a matchmaking site.

IMHO, as adults we truly should know what to say or do, in the right way, at the right place.
If we haven’t understood how to do so, perhaps thinking thrice before stating our minds out-loud could help.

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