Here's two excellent and through-provoking arguments on how social media changes the rules of engagement (yes, I know, I talk about this again and again, but this touches on another aspect of it).
"It's a Transparent Society, So Get Naked", says Ben Casnocha, arguing that baring your soul online has become so widespread that it's those preferring to stay 'fully clothed' who are the odd ones out, while a_spod, in yet another excellent comment, raises some interesting concerns about privacy.
I found myself agreeing with both. I guess, for those who believe that the planets govern our every move (scroll down to Libra), that would be the obvious explanation, but seriously, I catch myself taking new media reporters who don't blog less seriously (why won't you show us who you are? blogs are such a great way to find out who you are and what makes you tick) while at the same time I'm uneasy about how the electronic footprints we leave behind on the web may be used by third parties, be it companies or government.
Anyway, here's a taste of the two arguments, follow the links to the full posts above.
Ben Casnocha: Teens and adults today are choosing to publicize where they live, what they believe in, what their friends are like. On the Internet, it's easier than ever to disclose yourself. Yet we always hear the same thing from concerned parents and employers: What's happening to privacy?!
....Look, it's true that transparency has its costs. Down the road, today's teens may regret posting those drunk pictures and gratuitous blog entries. But since 97 percent of teens and tweens say they belong to a social network, everybody will have a screw-up or two from their adolescence. This creates what some call "Mutually Assured Embarrassment": If you smear me with that post I wrote at age 15, I'll spread photos of you sucking on a beer bong.
And transparency isn't all-or-nothing. Today's networks have detailed privacy settings you control. As blogger Jeff Jarvis has put it, "Publicness is good so long as we decide how public we want to be." Like it or not, the transparent society is here.
Most of my friends are out on the Web, where we tell the world who we are and what we think. Those who are still fully clothed shouldn't be surprised if folks start asking, "What are you trying to hide?"
a_spod: My experience of social networking is it feels like having a party with a few fellow bacchanalia only to discover those elegant full-length mirrors are in fact two-way mirrors. Maybe somebody pointed this out, but they didn't say the windows opened onto a high street where market researchers and social trainspotters busily jot down every detail of our conversations.
But for those of us who are socially isolated, living in small provincial towns, grafting away at dead-end jobs, or just unable to access intelligent media types by shouting across the newsroom, it’s a price we have to pay. Unplugged living is rather dull. So we check in our tinfoil balaclavas at the door and start stripping, because making friends and having semi-intimate conversations require you expose yourself to the lurking hordes.
And for any blogger skulking at the other end of a link, who thinks they've got the balance about right: worry about tomorrow... who knows which of our assumptions will be shattered by tomorrow's world; a "textual analysis" tool that allows searchers to find other pages by "the same author" would blow the gaff on anonymous comments; GPS, face recognition, or something completely left of field – use your imagination. What would screw you? Now go have nightmares. The net won't remain fixed like this.