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    Privacy Thresholds

    I was tasked with collecting biographies and head shots for our technicians in the shop. The plan is to send the customer an email at each stage of their engine overhaul with a little bit of information about who is doing what to their engine. We deal with many overseas customers, so it’s hard to put a “face” on the company. As a marketer and a millenial, I think this is a great idea. It keeps the customer apprised of the engine progress, assures them that a real person with real experience is doing real work on their engine, and makes all the technicians, customer service reps, and sales reps seem like one big happy family. We’re a unified company, partnering with you, our valued customer!

    Interestingly, some people did not want their picture and a summary of their work experience put out into the world. Again, being a marketer and a millenial, this is very odd to me. I realize that my privacy threshold is lower than most people’s, particularly when it comes to professional information. You can put my name into a search engine and find out my entire work history, picture, and phone number in less than a minute. The crazy part is that this was intentional! I WANT people to find me. How else will I advance my blog, my career, and my success? If no one knows I exist, they can’t offer me an opportunity! In my profession, I’d wager that if a potential employer or client can’t easily find me on the web, they’d be suspicious of my qualifications and education.

    This is not the case for prior generations, and particularly those in professions that require hard skills or specific licenses to practice. Marketing skills can be difficult to quantify or assess, so the big picture shown by my online presence is pretty crucial to my ability to prove myself. For technicians in an industry that will soon face a shortage of qualified workers, simply showing their A&P license is enough to get them to a probationary period, if not a full-time job. And, since many of these workers didn’t grow up in the age of the internet, the thought of putting their face and identifying history in print is pretty scary.

    While I understand their concerns, it’s just so hard for me to relate. I don’t share every detail of my personal and professional life online, but if I can say it in polite conversation to a random stranger in person, why would I hesitate to put it online? I guess I feel that if someone really wants to steal my identity or cause me harm, I’m going to have to significantly disrupt my entire life to prevent them from doing that. I’d have to forgo all credit card use, online and offline (I mean really, we let 16 year old waiters take our credit cards out of our sight for an unspecified amount of time!), never put my address ANYWHERE, and ditch any phone communications! Is it really so bad for someone to know what I look like? Is it really so bad for someone to know that I attended UNT? Is it really that harmful for someone to know I go to boot camp on a regular basis? Sure, I keep my whereabouts off the internet, my schedule off the internet, and my super secret passwords out of publication, but I have a low privacy threshold. I wonder how this debate will change over the next 5-10 years, as millenials ascend to positions of power, and social networking becomes even more normal and pervasive than it already is. How’s your privacy threshold?

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    2 Responses to “Privacy Thresholds”

    1. [...] established that my privacy threshold is pretty low online, but this article on Forbes re-affirms my comments that people are, in fact, [...]

    2. [...] technology, particularly the social aspect of today’s platforms (remember those issues with a privacy threshold?). Thus, we can have a system with tons of bells and whistles, data overload, and tons of screens [...]

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