In January I wrote of dozens of New York firefighters and police officers caught up in a Manhattan district attorney (DA) investigation over obtaining fraudulent disability benefits, including from 9/11.
Supposedly fully disabled public safety types were outed by their Facebook photos on jet skis, etc.
The plot has thickened a bit as Facebook appealed the DA’s search warrant on behalf of its users who were unaware of the warrant and the fact that their Facebook accounts were being heavily scrutinized for leads in the investigation.
In fact, the court used the ability of Facebook user’s to control their privacy settings as rationale for ruling in favor of the Manhattan DA.
The New York judge turned Facebook’s privacy assertions down flat. Â At least in this case, Facebook is just a repository of information. Â They lack both privacy protection and the right to assert it on behalf of users.
The Online Life: Â Share it
People now divulge significant life events that used to be either completely confidential or shared with a few close contacts online with nary a second (or first) thought.
Heretofore intimate details (and photographic documentation) are lobbed out for mass consumption and comment.
We apparently aspire to the virality of our personal lives.
So too, we often create “just the good times” effectively fictional lives that belie reality.
But the posted revelation lacks the emotional Â intimacy of, god forbid, a face-to-face encounter.
Oddly, it’s deceptivelyÂ private, worse yet, hidden,Â as the accompanying emotional response, or the risk of one, is prevented.
Anyone who has ever lost their emotional composure around friends or family during an especially tough time (despite an internal, personal promise to the contrary) knows the impact of human presence and interaction.
For many it is that very loss of emotional “control” characterized by its immediacy and vulnerability that is the pathway to healing and understanding. Â It is the unique connection of humanity which bridges the void.
What appears as online openness and “sharing” Â is in fact the opposite. Â We can appear to navigate the pain and chaos of life while fast forwarding through the tough parts.
But not really.
Our online outpourings notwithstanding, we are all destined to travel the turbulent waters called life and doing so from behind a computer screen is but a temporary solution.
The carefully constructed cyber-self is a poor stand-in for the real thing.