What a tangled web we weave. The shock and outrage over lack of privacy in the digital world runs counter to the convenience we want from the advantages of that connectivity. Free or freedom? Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Frank McNamara have a theological connection to this shifting argument.
Coleridge’s storytelling device “Suspension of Disbelief” is a basis for today’s life on the interwebs. Consider the old general store – owners knew your shopping behavior from your account that allowed for payments, the convenience of having your order ready for pick up and even what day you were going to shop. We trusted the shopkeeper to keep this info private.
Eventually, the shopkeeper knew your bank and could send bills there. The bank trusted these purchases were yours and gladly paid the debt. McNamara took this privilege forward when his “Diners’ Club” offered a way to eat without money to pay the bill. The restaurant accepted the card at face value and trusted that payment was forthcoming from the bank connected to the card.
Current surveys reflect our mixed messages. We question our privacy and express concern that “marketers” will find us when we don’t want them to. Then again, there is info that indicates we’ll roll over like obedient pets if access to a deal is available.
Then there’s social. We happily post details and the suspension of disbelief these self-reported life events require is high. But, when Facebook said it might just use images we surrendered via small print, there was panic in the streets.
Our tacit acceptance of the Terms of Service and its fine print allows channels the bargaining chips they need. Advertisers pay a fee for us and we get to use “free” apps and networks.
Google saw a potential threat to market share after the NSA-Prism news broke. Recent moves to drop “cookies” and promoting secure search leads to more suspension of disbelief. Google will still provide info if it’s paid for and we’ll still gladly allow that info to be available so we get the next BOGO special.
Make no mistake, security is still of value. Business needs tools and services to protect customers on some level and in fact can tout it as a competitive advantage. The small business entrepreneur still struggles in this area. They are most likely to be exposed to privacy breaches and have the most to lose. Yet, they must keep asking for info from customers.
The small business owner seeks balance. Perhaps, by going retro and using some of those concepts their predecessors at the general store practiced it can provide the customer with the experience that sets your business apart.
Our current generation of consumers is seemingly able to share anything without the privacy concerns of their parents. Those raised in the web suspend their disbelief because being a member of the club bring rewards. Their outrage comes from one of their friends knowing or getting something before they do.
So, web privacy is dead. Now, give me a cookie!
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