Why We Should Be Openly Sharing Our Personal Data With The World...

There has been an ongoing discussion recently on why everyone is sharing their data openly with the world. I found myself wondering more often why it is that through the facility of social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., we are openly publishing the infinite details of our lives. We seem to have this inherent need of self-expression through social media. I admit that I too am a culprit of constantly posting statuses, sharing my location, and uploading photos of personal life for the world to see. Later on I then go back to these posts to check how many "likes", "retweets", and "comments" were generated from my network and other random people in the world. It's worth investigating why I believe sharing data is beneficial. There are plenty of reasons for and against sharing, but I believe that the overall balance comes out in favor of sharing.


Reasons for sharing

Many of the reasons for sharing personal data are driven by the desire of self-expression and making our lives more transparent. At a psychological level, I believe it falls under Maslow's hierarchy of needs as self-actualization. We have a basic fundamental need to feel accepted, to feel a sense of worth in life, and to know that our voice is heard in a world where 7 billion people are all talking at the same time. As a consequence, we look past the risk of putting our privacy on display, because if we are able to fulfill this inherent need, then the juice is worth the squeeze.

Another reason for data sharing is the ability to keep in contact with friends and family members, or ideally whomever you desire.  Once we graduate and begin our adult lives, we are bombarded with our careers, social activities, relationships, financial obligations, travels, family, children, that is becomes nearly impossible to keep up with those who were important to you during your childhood and whom you saw on a daily basis.

Sharing personal data is also socially acceptable method of boasting a bit about your accomplishments. I used to joke that Instagram's sole purpose is to show others how great your life is compared to others, with the intention of making others jealous of your life. Now when you see accounts such as Dan Bilzerian​ ….that seems to be exactly the case.  However, from another perspective this is just another form of sharing what you are proud of and what makes you unique compared to the rest of the world.  

Finally, data sharing benefits us as individuals and is able to show us who we are. Every time we tweet a status about how we feel, check-in to a certain bar/restaurant, or upload a photo showing which corner of the world we are in, we are creating a written story of our lives in the form of data. It creates a reflection of ourselves at any given point in time that later in life we will be able to look back and reflect on.

This post represents the highlights of why I think data sharing is beneficial, however there are certainly more pros and cons out there. If you have some ideas, please share. Let me know why it is that you would or would not share your data openly.

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Tags: analytics, big, data, lifelogging, management, metrics, personal, productivity, quantified, self, More…self-tracking, shared, time


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Comment by Simon Thompson on February 18, 2015 at 10:45am

- would you publish your passwords online? Your bank details? It's easier to get these is you've been sharing lots of other bits and pieces.

- what if the government changes? what if a really nasty new regime comes in and goes after people who are "different" what if they start looking for exceptions to the "share it all rule" and you get to watch those nice fellas over the road being dragged out of their house and shot on their front lawn as a result? Or the people who went to the wrong church?

- what if human beings need to deal with new things, new technology and a new context and for that to happen we need people to experiment and find a new way of living? What if they need some private space to do that in ? What if things that were not normal 20 years ago, which would get you fired, which would get you hated were normal and ok now? What if we make people feel ashamed because they can't be who they really are online, like everyone else and we don't allow them the space to be private, but expect them to share?

Just some thoughts.

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