Facebook: 'You might miss out so just give away all your memories and personal data'
OPINION: Nostalgia is a powerful social lubricant.
Imagine, for a second, social media is offline. In most people's homes, or their parents' places, there is a shoebox or two containing old photos, letters and scrapbooks.
Pictures of grandparents, faded images of distant or long-dead relatives. Memories of childhood.
Now, why don't you take all those photographs and scrapbooks and give them to someone you don't know?
Just hand them over with your full name, address and date of birth. Go on. Everyone else is doing it and you might miss something.
OK, now that someone has all your old photos (and everyone else's), they're going to sell all the background information that can be gleaned from the bric-a-brac of your life to third parties, make a shedload of money and a whopping great profit.
But don't worry. You'll probably get shares or some kind of dividend. Oh. Wait.
They're going to use all that good info for marketing, security, advertising, news, shopping, insurance, legal stuff, risk management, jobs, social engineering, electioneering, science, medicine and art.
You, ah, actually won't get a cent. Sorry about that. Thanks for all your stuff, though. Bye.
All that bric-a-brac, all those memories, built up over a lifetime of experiences with friends and family and partners. Give it away for nothing. Buh, buh, buh...but why?
Well, you get to see the contents of other people's shoeboxes. Isn't that brilliant? You know you want to peek and see what's in there.
And tell each other what you think. You "like" them sometimes.
I "like" your photograph of your dinner. I like it. Dinner looks nice. Food looks nice. I like food. Ooooh. A cat.
While you've been distracted doing all that, the someone you gave all that exploitable information to has made a squillion dollars, bought a tropical island, found myriad ways to pay less tax, and grown to be about as big as they can be.
They are now almost inconceivably popular, unstoppable, so big the world around them has had to change, or failed because they weren't big enough. They're like a country, in some ways.
Of course, they do good things too and the internet isn't all bad or anything. It's amazing.
But some of those photos and bits and pieces were really quite close to the heart. They were truly personal. And now they're not.
Disclaimer: My relationship with social media is ambiguous to say the least. Choosing to be offline is an option, just an unrealistic one, and I still use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Messenger etc. I am old enough to remember MySpace and Friends Reunited.