Between Self-Expression And Privacy


In 2013, a teenager in the USA was murdered while home alone. She had tweeted “Have the house to myself everybody gone” a few hours before she was found dead. This unfortunate incident might not be a common occurrence in this part of the world, but it certainly calls for some reflection on the amount of information we choose to share online. The truth is that quite a number of people share far too much information, especially on social networking sites. Once in a while, we are guilty of over-sharing information about our personal lives. You only need to visit the various social media platforms to be convinced of this.

Social media is such a veritable tool for keeping in touch with old friends and loved ones, as well as making new friends, building relationships and networking that it is so easy to get carried away by its ease of use and many other advantages. However, many hardly know more than fifty percent of their “friends” or followers in these virtual communities, and so sharing certain information with total strangers all in the name of being active on the platform or keeping up with what appears to be cool may not be a very wise decision. People have had their accounts hacked and used for identity fraud because they were too loose-lipped with personal information on social media. I have heard of people missing out on jobs because of online comments and photos that were deemed inappropriate by potential employers. I read about a man who lost his job because he was found to have been lying after taking the weekend off under the pretext that he was ill, only to be found posting pictures of himself on Facebook, at a wild party during that same weekend. Apparently, he had forgotten that he linked his Facebook account with his other social networking accounts! Alas, he got caught! And it was too late to repair the damage done. Businesses and careers can be affected in more ways than we could ever have bargained for when we get careless with sensitive information.

Many are not online security savvy, yet see nothing wrong in putting very intimate details of their lives out there. Do we really need to know that you just had a fight with your significant other or that your boss just ticked you off? Some information are not only unnecessary, they can be used to the advantage of a detractor! Personally, I have never been too comfortable with using the location-based check in options available on social networking sites because I am wary of every Tom, Dick and Harry knowing where I am at a particular time. I mean…isn’t it scary to have a total stranger be able to tell exactly where you have lunch each day or that after having lunch you stop by to check on your kids briefly at the creche before resuming work? Yet, people use the check-in option almost always without stopping to think about its implications. If at all key information must be shared then it is important that they are on password protected pages to guarantee some level of security.

Some of us would admit that we have had cause to cringe at some of our past status updates. I know of erstwhile couples who had posted several pictures of happy times on Instagram when the going was good, declaring undying love and words of affirmation that even Romeo would be envious of if he were alive today, but who suddenly found themselves at their wits end when they broke up because the relationship had been so publicized that it was embarrassing for them to admit that it hit the rocks! Of course, they put on an air of bravado and the pictures were deleted anyway, but sure didn’t escape the barrage of questions from relentless busy bodies and rumor mongers under the guise of showing care. I couldn’t help but think that the situation could have been avoided if they had been a little more discreet about their business.

Generally, I believe these aspects of our lives should be kept private by all means as it is absolutely unnecessary information for the general public, I’ll highlight a few of them below in no particular order;

 Home Address:        Except you don’t mind receiving uninvited guests at any time of the day.

-Travel/Social Plans:  You don’t want some crazy stalker on your trail.

-Company Information: That seemingly harmless moment of indiscretion on your part can cost                                                          your company its competitive edge which could in turn translate to                                                               lost revenue, and can certainly cost you your job! 

-Personal Finance:     Except you’re sharing that huge pay with me, I really don’t                                                                                  care how much you earn.

-“Sexcapcades”:    Do we really need to know who you’re sleeping with or that you’re the                                                           Pimp Master in your neighborhood?

There are several other information that should not be for public consumption, I have only highlighted the ones above because they readily come to mind as those that can be easily abused. Bottom line is – If you are in doubt about whether the content or comment you are about to share on social media could be potentially dangerous, offensive or embarrassing, don’t share it.


10 Replies to “Between Self-Expression And Privacy”

  1. Word! I have also learnt the lesson the hard way. now I am an absolutely private person unless I’m being mischievous.
    thanks for sharing dear.

  2. This is another good piece from you I must say. The fact that one will always have one thing or the other to learn from each piece posted by you is one of the reasons am always looking forward to Wednesdays.The social media platforms as useful as they can be can also give one a bad experience that one will leave to remember for the rest of one’s life. I just hope that we have all learnt one or two things from this write up.Moreso, we need to be security conscious.I still remember the story of the lady who met business partners on face book and was eventually killed by same people.Only God knows the level of information she gave to those people that led to her death.

    1. Thanks for this comment, I remember the story of the lady too. The issue of security especially cannot be overemphasised.

  3. Lolade, this article is so timely! Nowadays, people have no qualms about putting every single detail of their lives out there. Frankly, I have never understood why. Wish many people would read and learn from this piece. Good job!

    1. Thanks a lot. I guess it’s just one of the many wierd things that define this generation. Feel free to share the article.

  4. Lolo thanks for this expository write up ,av learnt from it.
    Av come to realize dat we all av d tendency of wanting to show off only d good side of our lives,but not d bad and savy new car,new hairstyle, my new office, travel location abroad, beautiful family portraits all smiles,beautiful couple etc but it takes a great level of discipline and Discretion not to do it.
    I think joblessness is also a factor somehow, bcos d way some people put every detail of der personal lives on social networks is really absord.

    1. Your analysis of this subject matter is so spot on! True…people tend to showcase the upsides of their lives on social media while concealing the not-so-good sides. Unfortunately, many of us do not realize this. Thanks Funmi.

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