Happy Data Privacy DayWe’re big on privacy.

As enthusiastic proponents of passwords, you could say it’s our raison d’etre – it’s what we’re all about. Every year on January 28, we look forward to Data Privacy Day just like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin (but with fewer pumpkins).

We were encouraged to see that the younger crowd (18-39) flexed its collective privacy muscle enough to inspire an article titled ‘The Privacy Generation’. The highlight of the article is that about 60% of respondents in this age category said ‘no’ to questions concerning whether personal privacy should be sacrificed in investigations of potential threats.

Wow, that sounds pretty good! Then we started to think.

We thought of hugely popular reality shows (Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Flip this House, I Used To Be Fat, Jackass (with more than 29 Million likes on FB), Keeping up with the Kardashians (poor Bruce!), and on and on and on) which, while not showing actual real life, don’t leave room for much privacy in the lives of the contestants. Nor do they seem to ever satisfy the audience’s appetite for explicit details.

We remember a lot of Girls Gone Wild videos that revealed mobs of exuberant young ladies showing off much more than their tan lines; not to mention the selfies (in various stages of undress) that get around Facebook, Instagram, blogs, TMZ and a host of other social media sites.

A bunch of these shows are on MTV, which targets an audience up to age 34 (the ‘privacy’ contingent of the survey group), so we wondered about the cognitive dissonance that must be going on in all those heads: full exposure / privacynow you see everything / now you see nothing.

Peekaboo

An impartial observer from space might be forgiven for thinking that ‘privacy’ no longer means ‘you can’t see and I’m not telling’, but now means ‘check this out but don’t tell anyone.’

Passwords revealed in recent breaches would seem to confirm that this general lack of care for privacy transfers to the area of their own data privacy – as if it were someone else’s responsibility. How else can we explain the ongoing use of passwords like ‘123456’, ‘qwerty’, ‘princess’ and other simply stupid passwords?!

Yes, it is the responsibility of the vendor to keep all customer data secure – including passwords, but precisely because the world is the way it is, it’s each individual’s responsibility to take basic precautions to protect themselves.

And what about businesses and schools demanding – and getting – passwords and access to Facebook and personal email accounts?

We should be fiercely jealous of our privacy, and not just in surveys. It’s almost impossible to reconcile continuous public flashing while at the same time demanding privacy – from government, business or anyone else.

How did we get here?

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol, not Andy Fletcher

It’s Andy’s fault. No, not Andy Fletcher, we’re talking about Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol is credited with saying: ‘in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’ (1968). Whether he meant this as a commentary on 60’s pop culture or as encouragement that anyone could become famous – if ever so briefly – today, it seems that most folks take this as an entitlement.

Thanks to excellent investigative reporting by the Buggles, the world discovered that ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’.

We’re here to say that Andy Warhol was the trigger man in the premature demise of privacy.

The surest and easiest way to grab YOUR 15 minutes of fame is to expose yourself to the world. What’s that got to do with privacy, you ask? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

Recently heard over the commotion of everyday life:

“They say that we’ve sacrificed privacy for convenience, but that’s not true. We’ve sacrificed privacy for Angry Birds.”

Andy would have liked that.